The Dog Days of summer traditionally start today. The term goes back to Roman times, and doesn’t concern the family pet, but the celestial “dog” in the skies. The Dog Days come when the Sun is closest to the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, knick-named the “Dog Star”. We see this star in the winter as the nose of the Great Dog, companion to Orion.

The evening twilight finds our two neighboring planets, the brilliant Venus and the fading Mars lowering a bit more each night. Tonight you find Venus before 9 o’clock, about one quarter of the way up. Mars joins by 9:30, to the upper left of Venus, while farther to the upper left, the star Regulus marks the front shoulder of Leo, the Lion.

Very late this evening, the waning Gibbous Moon climbs into the east-southeast, but not alone. Just a few minutes after the Moon near 1 o’clock, the ringed planet Saturn returns to the evening skies, well to the left of the Moon. By midnight tomorrow night, a slightly smaller Moon appears below Saturn.