Message from the President

NASA eyes model of Sun and Earth in Space

As we approach the solar solstice, we find ourselves at a fascinating point in our celestial calendar. The summer solstice, occurring around June 21st, marks the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and officially ushers in the summer season. This period offers a unique opportunity for stargazers, as the tilt of Earth’s axis brings about a sky filled with a plethora of observable constellations and deep sky objects.

One of the highlights of summer stargazing is the prominent visibility of the Summer Triangle, formed by the bright stars Vega, Deneb, and Altair. Vega, in the constellation Lyra, is particularly easy to spot and is often the first star to appear after sunset. Nearby, the constellation Cygnus, the Swan, can be seen flying through the Milky Way, with the North America Nebula (NGC 7000) located just off Deneb. Altair, the brightest star in Aquila, the Eagle, completes this trio, making the Summer Triangle an excellent starting point for a night of observing.

For those interested in deep sky objects, the summer sky offers some truly breathtaking sights. The Great Hercules Cluster (M13) in the constellation Hercules is a must-see. This globular cluster contains hundreds of thousands of stars and can be seen with binoculars, though a telescope will provide a more detailed view. The Ring Nebula (M57) in Lyra is another fascinating object, displaying the remnants of a star that has shed its outer layers. Additionally, the Lagoon Nebula (M8) in Sagittarius provides a stunning view of a star-forming region that is sure to captivate any observer.

As we revel in these celestial wonders, it is important to remember that summer nights bring with them the least amount of dark sky time. The short nights and extended twilight mean we must make the most of the hours we have for observing. The warm summer air, however, often makes for comfortable and enjoyable viewing sessions, allowing us to immerse ourselves in the beauty of the night sky without the chill of winter.

Let us embrace the magic of these warm summer nights and cherish the moments we have under the stars. Happy stargazing, everyone!