Today is St. John’s Day – Midsummer’s Day in ancient traditions. One of the features of the summer skies is a trio of bright stars known as the Summer Triangle. Look in the east after 10 o’clock, where the brightest and highest of the three stars, Vega, is shining. Nearest the horizon is Altair, while the third star is found to the left, known as Deneb.
Saturn has made it into the evening skies – just barely! The great ringed-world rises above a perfectly level east-southeast horizon at 11:49 PM, though it won’t realistically be observed until after midnight. By the first hints of twilight tomorrow morning, Saturn climbs to one third of the way up in the south-southeast, well above a moderately bright star, Fomalhaut.
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.