A transformation in the night sky has taken place since summer, and the Milky Way has moved to a position where it is almost overhead. This is the season we are especially aware of the stars overhead as the nights are so much longer.
The constellations in the early evening sky now say autumn and early winter. The constellations Pegasus and Andromeda are overhead. Taurus, the bull, rises in the east.
Vega and Altair, the two brightest stars high in our summer skies, now reside in the west. They both have a blueish white color and still outshine all others, except the planet Venus. Venus is close to the horizon early in the evening. Vega is brighter than Altair and the two set around 11 p.m.
To become proficient at recognizing constellations, the first step involves getting outside and soaking up the beauty of the night sky. There is order in what appears to be stellar chaos.
The second step is to get a star chart for the autumn sky. Star charts are maps of the sky. When studying geographic maps, many begin by picking out states and larger cities before turning to smaller cities and towns. Similarly, when looking at the stars try to identify the brightest ones first.
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