“The Sky This Week” appears every Tuesday. It is written by Ian Clarke, Director of the Hatter Planetarium at Gettysburg College. The planetarium offers regular educational presentations about the stars and the skies; there’s something for early elementary through adults. Field trip requests are welcome. NOTE: field trip request form for Fall 2022 is now live, and the schedule of free public shows has been posted.
With mostly moonless nights, it’s a great time to get outside and see the Summer Triangle and Milky Way. Get as far as possible from artificial lights and be sure to allow your eyes to dark adapt for ten minutes or more. Looking overhead about 10:00 p.m., you’ll see the “Summer Triangle” of the bright stars Vega, Deneb, and Altair. It looks like a big pizza slice pointing south. It is not one of the official 88 constellations, so we call it an “asterism.” Each of these bright stars is within its own constellation: Lyra for Vega, Cygnus for Deneb, and Aquila for Altair. The Milky Way (if your sky is dark enough to see it) runs from the southern horizon through the Summer Triangle.
The moon is new on August 27. As we approach that date, you can see it in the early morning sky near the planet Venus. It will be a crescent, getting thinner and thinner as the days go by. Then, a two or three days after new moon, you’ll see it as a crescent in the west after sunset, getting bigger and farther from the sunset each night.
Ian Clarke is the director of the Hatter Planetarium at Gettysburg College. In addition he has taught introductory astronomy labs and first-year writing there for over 30 years (not necessarily all at the same time). He was educated at Biglerville High School, the University of Virginia, and the University of Iowa. He lives in Gettysburg.