THE BIG SKY

Canal Boat - - Boater’s Break - WITH SEB JAY

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

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