The two brightest stars in our summer skies – Arcturus, high in the south, and Vega, high in the east – guide you to a much fainter star group, Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown. Look one third of the way from Arcturus toward Vega, and you will see a faint semi-circle of stars, with a brighter one in the middle. This is Gemma, the jewel in the crown.

A waxing Gibbous Moon can be found this afternoon near 5:45 PM, about one third of the way up in the southeast. By the time the sun sets, the Moon will progress to due south at 8:45 PM, heading for the southwest, where a bright star emerges below the Moon, the steely-blue Spica, the brightest star in the zodiacal constellation Virgo, the Virgin.

Venus, Mars, and the star Reguluar form a slightly crooked line in the western twilight for the next few nights. Venus is easy to pickout, being almost 200 times brighter than Mars, located on the right of the trio. Mars has fallen below the brightness of Regulus as well, about 40 percent less bright.