By Sarah Readdean
For a stargazer, the biggest disadvantage to living in a big city like Boston is the light pollution, making it hard for us to see many of the stars that lie above us. But on a clear night, you’ll still be able to see some of the brightest ones.
Just last week I was able to spot the Summer Triangle from Nickerson Field. The Summer Triangle is an asterism, or group of stars that’s not a constellation, made up of the stars: Vega, Altair and Deneb. It is visible during the summer months, but can still be seen into late autumn. Here in Boston, if you look straight up, Vega will appear to be almost directly overhead. From there, look into the western sky (think West Campus) and you may be able to see the other two stars which make up this large triangle.
As you may know, this summer, Mars at opposition was a huge event for astronomers and stargazers. Four of the five visible planets were especially bright this summer and late spring. These same four planets are still visible.
From Boston, the brightest planet, Venus, sets low to the horizon just after sunset, so it may be difficult to see. Jupiter, the next brightest planet after Venus, sets around 8:30 p.m. Saturn, which is a yellow/gold color (compared to Mars’ bright red/orange) sets around 11 p.m this time of year. And Mars will stay up until a little after 1 a.m. Look in the southern sky for these planets.
Another great viewing opportunity? The International Space Station. It truly is an amazing thing to experience, so if you are out this weekend and just happen to look up at the right time, you’ll see a white light in the sky, larger than any star, planet or airplane. For the schedule of when the ISS will pass over Boston, visit Spot the Station on NASA’s website.
And in the words of Stephen Hawking, “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist.”