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Thursday, January 29, 2015

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

Courtesy of EarthSky
A Clear Voice for Science

I 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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