August 

Right on the meridian you will see the brightest star of the summer sky: Vega in the constellation Lyra, The Lyre.  For those of you who do not know, a lyre is a simple harp played in ancient Greek and Roman times.  If you are observing at latitude between 30 and 45 Vega will be at or near to your zenith.  Observers to the south of these latitudes will find it a short distance north of their zenith, while those farther north will see it somewhat below their zenith.   Vega, like most of the very brightest stars is fairly close to us (at 27 light-years) and is blue-white in color. The main part of Lyra consists of four major stars arranged in a four-sided figure with parallel sides (see Figure 23).

   

Figure 23: August constellations to the east of the meridian. 

            To the east northeast of Vega at a fair distance is another unusually bright star (though not as bright as Vega).  It is Deneb, the brightest star in the constellation Cygnus, The Swan.  The main part of Cygnus is the famous asterism known as The Northern Cross.  Casting your gaze far to the south of Cygnus you will sight a star equal to Deneb in brightness.   It is Altair in Aquila, The Eagle. With Figure 23 as your guide, locate the two small constellations between the southernmost star of The Northern Cross and Aquila.  They are Vulpecula, The Fox and Sagitta, The Arrow.

 

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