Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Summer Triangle

August is a great time to be watching the night sky. Although not quite as impressive as the Winter Hexagon, the Summer Triangle can be easily spotted. It is made up of 3 of the brightest stars in the night sky. Vega in Lyra (Latin for Lyre), Deneb in Signus (Latin for Swan) and in Altair in Aquila (Latin for Eagle)

Look south eastwards (135°) and search for Cygnus first

The brightest star is deneb which is from dhaneb, the Arabic for "tail" (Tail of the swan) Part of the constellation makes up of theNorthern Cross. (Bolder green in the image.)

Now look for Vega in Lyra to the right of Cygnus (see image above). The final of the three stars is another bright star below Deneb and Vega. It is called Altair. It comes froman abreviation of the arabic phrase 'the flying eagle'

Join the three stars up and you have the Sumer triangle.

In the film Contact, (originally a book by Carl Sagan) the message intercepted by Jodi Foster's character is coming from Vega.

Jodie Foster character in Contact 'I was given something wonderful, something that changed me forever... A vision... of the universe, that tells us, undeniably, how tiny, and insignificant and how... rare, and precious we all are! A vision that tells us that we belong to something that is greater then ourselves, that we are not, that none of us are alone!'

All night sky images from Wikipedia.

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