This month's astronomy podcast takes you on a tour of a dysfunctional "royal family" in the northern sky — along with tips for viewing two meteor showers.
Each month Sky & Telescope's astronomy podcast takes you on a guided tour of what you can see — using just your eyes — in the nighttime sky. With a return to standard time this month, nightfall comes early, giving you plenty of time to check out the goings-on in the starry sky.
Saturn and Mars are still easy to find after sunset, with the Red Planet especially obvious in the south. Below Mars is the bright but isolated star Fomalhaut, positioned over the southern horizon in a quiet backwater of the celestial landscape.
Although Jupiter has virtually disappeared from view, you can still barely glimpse it — along with fast-moving Mercury — early in the month.
As darkness falls, look high up in the west, and you’ll see the three bright stars of the Summer Triangle. Vega, at lower right, is the brightest. Deneb is above it, and Altair is farther off to Vega’s left.
In the northern part of the sky, look high up for Cassiopeia, a beautiful but boastful mythical queen. Her brightest stars have the shape of a "3" or a broad "W" tipped up on its left corner. Surrounding Cassiopeia are other members of a royal saga: Cepheus, her husband; Andromeda, her doomed daughter; and Perseus, the hero.
To find out how to spot these constellations — along with tips for watching the annual Taurid and Leonid meteor showers — play or download this month's 6½-minute-long astronomy podcast (linked below).