Starwatch: the summer spectacle of the Milky Way

Starwatch chart 29 July 2019 Milky Way

One of the greatest sights you can see in the summer night sky from the northern hemisphere are the star clouds of the Milky Way rising up into the sky from the deep south. They reach up between the constellations Sagittarius, the archer, and Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer. The Milky Way is our galaxy, home to the sun’s 200 billion stellar siblings, with all of them arranged in a big disc that bulges towards the centre.

The stars that make up the Milky Way are so far away that their light blurs into one. The individual stars we see in the night sky are part of our galaxy too, just situated closer to us. The chart shows the view looking due south at 23:00 BST on 29 July 2019, and the view will be similar throughout the next few weeks. The star clouds widen in the south because we are looking directly at the central bulge of the Milky Way, the gravitational hub around which all the stars in the sky – including the sun – are orbiting.


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