The Summer Sky

The short summer nights are dominated by the Summer Triangle. This is not a real constellation, but formed by the brightest stars of Lyra (Vega), Cygnus (Deneb) and Aquila (Atair). They are the first stars that are visible at dusk and helpful for orientation. Their distribution in space is interesting – Vega and Atair are only 25 and 17 light-years away, while approximately 1,800 light-years separate us from Deneb. Seen from Earth, all three stars appear of similar brightness.

The Milky Way extends from Cassiopeia across the Summer Triangle to the horizon between Scorpio and Sagittarius. It is divided into two halves by the 500 to 1,000 light-years distant dust clouds of the Great Rift. The dust clouds extend from Cygnus far to the south.

Above all, Sagittarius offers a variety of delightful objects which are unfortunately difficult to see, as they are never very high above the horizon and thus easily lost in the horizon haze. Here is also the center of our Milky Way, which remains hidden from us because of thick clouds of dust.

The bright star Arcturus in Bootes can still be seen high in the west and sparkles with the Summer Triangle as if they were trying to outshine each other, while in the east the first typical autumn constellations with Andromeda and Pegasus will rise above the horizon in the course of the night.


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