Prepared by Eric Jorgensen

Summer Constellations

Use this page from your smart phone to help you find and identify summer constellations. The page background is black and the text is red to help preserve your night vision.

The instructions below will guide you step by step through the main constellations and stars in the summer sky for the Northern hemisphere. It is assumed the observer is somewhere between 30 and 40 degrees longitude and the local time is about 10pm.


Summer Triangle

We'll start by finding the three brightest stars in the sky. This triangle will be your reference point for locating constellations.

[Vega] is almost straight overhead, slightly to the East. Next to vega is the constellation Lyra (The Harp).

[Deneb] is Northeast of Vega and part of the constellation Cygnus (The Swan).

[Altair] is Sourtheast of Vega and part of the constellation Aquila (The Eagle)

Nearby [Altair] to the East is the tiny constellation Delphinus (the Dolphin).

Directly overhead is the constelation Hercules. You find it by trancing a line from [Deneb] through [Vega].

The Big Dipper

The big dipper is probably the most recognizable pattern of stars in the sky. Starting from there, we can find several other stars and constellations. We call it the "big dipper" in the United States, but the ancients knew it as a plough or as parse of Ursa Major (The big bear).

Following the arc of the dipper's handle, we can "arc to [arcturus]", one of the brightest stars in the sky. [Arcturus] is also the brightest star of the constellation Bootes (The ploughman. pronounced Boo - ootees). With a little imagination, you can see the ploughman operating his plough, which is the big dipper.

Going the other way, you can follow the pointer stars in the cup of the big dipper to [Polaris] (the North Star). [Polaris] is part of the constellation we call the little dipper, also known as ursa minor (the little bear).

If you keep tracing the line past [polaris], you will get to the constellation Casseopeia (The Queen). It looks like a great big 'W'.



Constellations and stars I plan to add later:   [Antares] Scorpius (The Scorpion)
"Spike to Spica"                
[Spica] Virgo  (The maiden)
East of Scorpius - Teapot, Sagittarius (The archer) just above the spout is the center of the milky way