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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Earthsky Tonight—July 29, Summer Triangle and the smallest constellations

Courtesy of EarthSky
A Clear Voice for Science

phaseJ29 Earthsky Tonight—July 29, Summer Triangle and the smallest constellations10jul29 430 Earthsky Tonight—July 29, Summer Triangle and the smallest constellationsI pointed out the Summer Triangle earlier this month. This famous pattern of stars is now at its best in the night sky. The Summer Triangle consists of three bright stars – Vega, Deneb and Altair – in three separate constellations. If you can find the Summer Triangle, you can use it to locate three of the sky’s smallest constellations: Vulpecula the Fox, Delphinus the Dolphin and Sagitta the Arrow.

EarthSky’s meteor shower guide for 2010

All three would be impossible to see from the city. Personally – true confession ahead here – I have never managed to identify Vulpecula in my 30+ years of stargazing. It is just so faint and so small!

On the other hand, the little constellations Delphinus and Sagitta are very distinctive. They are easy to see in a dark country sky, because both actually look somewhat like the objects/creatures for which they are named. Delphinus is supposed to be the Dolphin that carried a Greek poet – Arion – safely away from his enemies. Sagitta is sometimes considered to be an arrow shot from the bow of Hercules.

Our Summer Triangle series includes:

Part 1: Vega and its constellation Lyra

Part 2: Deneb and its constellation Cygnus

Part 3: Altair and its constellation Aquila

Written by Deborah Byrd

Astronomy Picture of the Day from NASA/JPL

CHANDRA Photo Album

U.S. Naval Observator Astronomical Information center

StarDate Online

Sky and Telescope

National Geographic

Space Com

Amazing Space

The York County Astronomical Society

Scope City

James S McDonnell Planetarium

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