June 12, 2012

SandBoxBlogs: Steamboat Today "The Summer Triangle"

Jimmy Westlake:
"There are few sights in nature more beautiful than the starry summer sky. When the sun goes down and the summer stars come out, three of the first ones you see, high in the northeastern sky, will be the trio of bright stars that forms the corners of an unmistakable asterism called the Summer Triangle. Although it’s called the Summer Triangle, it first becomes visible in the early evening during late spring and hangs on in our evening sky until early winter.

Asterisms are dot-to-dot drawings in the sky that are widely known but are not counted among the 88 official constellations. The Big Dipper is another well-known example of an asterism. In many cases, asterisms like the Summer Triangle are easier to recognize than the official star patterns.

The brightest star in the Summer Triangle and the first to rise is Vega, named for “the plunging vulture.”

At a distance of only 25 light years, Vega is among the closest stars to our solar system. Vega became a real “movie star” in 1997 when the late astronomer Carl Sagan chose it as the source of the first extraterrestrial radio signal detected by astronomers on Earth in his fictional book and movie “Contact.” In real life, Vega was one of the first stars discovered to have a ring of planetary material surrounding it, possibly a family of planets in the process of formation....
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