Starry Nights

Summer nights under the stars are much more impressive when you can get away from the city lights to actually see the firmament twinkle in all its splendor.
Photo courtesy yavorzhelyazkov/Pixabay

Want to see the stars? The further you can get away from civilization, the better, says Aarran Shaw. The Butler University physics and astronomy professor suggests a state park like Turkey Run for its many miles without lights. The first thing you should look for is the constellation Sagittarius, which “is especially impressive in the summer,” Shaw says, and is visible with the naked eye.

With a garden-variety telescope, you’ll also be able to see Venus and Jupiter, as well as the latter planet’s moons. (To know what you’re looking at, Shaw recommends an app like SkyView, which uses your phone’s camera to identify what’s what in the night sky.) There’s also the so-called Summer Triangle of stars to look for. Its points are Altair, Deneb, and Vega, each the brightest star in its respective constellation.

The big show is on August 12 and 13, when the Perseid meteor shower will be most visible. The range of shooting stars is too vast to be captured by a telescope’s narrow lens, so Shaw suggests finding a dark campsite, laying down out in the open, and gazing skyward while as many as 75 meteors an hour pass by.