THE BIG SKY
Fancy an all-nighter? Starry summer skies are the perfect excuse for some dusk ‘til dawn exploits of the astronomical variety. June’s short nights see the stars twinkling above Britain’s canals by 11pm, giving us four hours of starlit darkness.
It’s time enough to canter across the universe and back again for an early breakfast.
The journey begins out West. Look for a bright star that is in fact not a star at all. Jupiter, the biggest planet in our solar system, is unmissable as darkness descends. Now look low to your South-east for a dimmer pale-yellow star. Again, this is no star but the ringed gas giant Saturn. A small telescope is all you’ll need to see Saturn’s rings.
Out beyond the planets a bigger telescope and planetarium app is required. Together they’ll help you track down the Ring Nebula in Lyra – the remains of a star that died 5000 years ago; the Hercules globular cluster where the oldest stars in our galaxy lie, and the glow from distant suns in far flung galaxies, and from where starlight has travelled for longer than the entirety of human history to reach your eyes. Before you know it, it’ll be getting light!
A view through a telescope of the oldest stars in our galaxy in the Hercules globular cluster