The clear dry air that covers New England and is giving the Vineyard excellent sunny days is also giving us near perfect stargazing nights. Visibility is excellent. The stars are bright and numerous. The Milky Way is easy to see overhead, and the stars of autumn are rising in the east.
For those who are up late, the bright planet Jupiter rises in the East around midnight. The planet is in the zodiacal constellation Taurus, a constellation we associate with cold winter nights. If you wait later, the constellation Orion rises. Orion, the hunter, is a winter constellation. Orion rises in the east at 1 a.m.
Take a moment to view the constellations in the western sky. They are our summer constellations and include Hercules, Aquila and Lyra. The brightest star high in the west is Vega, in the constellation Lyra. Vega resides amid the stars of summer.
A thin crescent moon appears low in the southwestern sky next week. A few Vineyarders will see the moon as early as Tuesday night, soon after sunset. The moon will appear low and close to the horizon.
More Vineyarders will see the moon on Wednesday night when it is higher in the sky and close to the red planet Mars.
Mars appears just to the right of the moon. Both are in the zodiacal constellation Libra.
On Thursday night, the moon appears higher and farther south. It will appear near the red star Antares. The two are in the zodiacal constellation Scorpius.