A truly “once-in-a-lifetime” event takes place this afternoon through northern NY, VT, and NH, a total eclipse of the Sun. The Moon’s shadow races 2,300 mph through areas north of Middlebury, Barre, Barnet, Lancaster, and Milan, with totality lasting 1 to 3 minutes, longest along the eclipse’s center line from St. Albans to Highgate Falls, and then Ayer’s Cliff, QE. The next eclipse in these areas won’t happen until 2381.

The steely blue star rising in the north-northeast, low but due northeast at 10:20 PM, is Vega, from the German “Wega”, and from the Arabic “Al Wika”, the “swooping or diving eagle”. In modern times it is the brightest star in Lyra, the Lyre, a harp-like instrument, home to the meteor showers over the next few nights.

This evening at 9 o’clock, looking due south and just slightly to the left, you see the brightest star in Leo, the Lion. Regulus reigns above a large but much less prominent constellation, that of the Water Snake, named Hydra. The snake’s head appears as a collection of stars half-way between Regulus, and Procyon, midway up in the southwest. The snake’s body curves back and forth to the lower left.