Categories: Astronomy For Kids

Kid’s Astronomy – The Summer Triangle

The seasons and the constellations are changing – and so are the times that many of us go to bed! If you’re up late tonight, this would be a great time for you to spot some very special things going on in the night sky. You won’t need any special equipment – just your eyes and knowing where to look. Are you ready? Then step outside and listen to the wind as it tells us about the Summer Triangle and I’ll tell you what else to look for!

Credit: ESO
“There is something very magical and wonderful about knowing your way around the night sky. As the Summer nights grow shorter and the blanket of night falls later, perhaps you’ll look up with wonder as each bright star begins to appear one by one. Sometimes to Moon or city lights can hide the fainter stars, but there are a few that shine brightly no matter where you live or when you look.”

Credit: Steve Burgis

“You can learn the night sky easily by identifying a few bright stars that form a pattern. This pattern is known as an asterism, and one of the most famous of all is the Summer Triangle. You won’t need any special equipment, just use your eyes and look high overhead around midnight. Here you will see three bright stars spaced well apart – Vega, Deneb and Altair. Each belong to a different constellation and each are the brightest stars. Eastern Vega’s home is Lyra, northern Deneb belongs to Cygnus and southern Altair makes its home in Aquila.”

Credit: A. Fujii (NASA/ESA)

“Once you have found the Summer Triangle, visit it again on a dark night or from a dark location. Do you see what looks like a pale band of clouds running through it? Those aren’t clouds in our atmosphere, those are star clouds which make their home in the spiral arm of our own Milky Way Galaxy!

Tonight, May 9/10, the Summer Triangle will be accompanied by a few very special visitors, too! If you look below to triangle to the south, you will see the almost Full Moon very, very close to a bright star called Antares – the “Rival of Mars”. Because the bright Moon will wash out faint stars, only the brightest will remain, so you will also see another, larger triangle of stars further west. That’s Arcturus, Spica and Regulus. For an added treat, the bright point of light you’ll see right in the center of that triangle is Saturn.

Have fun!!

Tammy Plotner

Tammy was a professional astronomy author, President Emeritus of Warren Rupp Observatory and retired Astronomical League Executive Secretary. She’s received a vast number of astronomy achievement and observing awards, including the Great Lakes Astronomy Achievement Award, RG Wright Service Award and the first woman astronomer to achieve Comet Hunter's Gold Status. (Tammy passed away in early 2015... she will be missed)

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Tammy Plotner

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