Hey, sky fans! Did you get a load of those skies last night? The Summer Triangle was high overhead, and Cassiopeia, the queen, is in great viewing over to the north, or maybe the northwest (don’t worry; we’ll get to it). Down in the south, one of the most summery of summer star groups, Scorpius, the scorpion, is climbing higher and higher. In fact, these days, it gets to its highest point, due south, in the mid-evenings, around 9:30pm around my katydid-echoing corner of the northeast. So, it’s become a really striking sight. In fact, it’s standing out so much that a woman who lives in my neighborhood saw me outside with my camera and asked what we were looking at; if it was the Summer Triangle.
Here’s a 15-second exposure I grabbed just above the top of the fences.
If you’ve been watching this part of the dark over recent months, you’ve seen Mars and Saturn squeeze together and pull apart a bit. It’s mostly been Mars on the move. Saturn’s mostly stayed put relative to the background stars, among them the bright red super giant Antares. This is because Mars is so much closer to to us than Saturn is—about 35 million miles, compared to about 900 million miles—so as time has gone on, we’ve moved much more compared to it. It’s kind of like how nearby trees and cows move much more when you drive past them than the more distant ones do. Only this time, the nearby cows are a giant red ball of rocks, and they’re moving, too. At the moment, the two planets are pretty close, about six degrees apart in the sky.
Keep an eye on them over the next couple of weeks. You’ll see them tighten up a bunch more until let’s say August 22 through August 25 when you’ll see Mars slide between Saturn and Antares and then continues on into the night, backward (retrograde) relative to everything else. On August 23, they’ll be at their closest, and the three will be in a tidy nearly straight line. It’ll be a sight, no doubt.
Have a great day and clear skies, everyone.