Starwatch: Follow the Plough to find bright stars and the Northern Crown

This week is a good time to see red giant Arcturus and bright white Vega, with the Corona Borealis

Starwatch chart 9 May 2020 Arcturus and Corona Borealis

The northern hemisphere’s spring constellations are now well placed in the evening sky. The chart shows the view looking south from London throughout the evenings this week. The jewel is the orange star Arcturus in Böotes, the herdsman. It can be most easily located by identifying the Plough and following the curve of the handle around and down. Arcturus is a red giant star, fully 25 times the radius of the sun. At a distance of about 37 light years, it is also fairly nearby. It is by far the brightest star in this part of the sky.

From there, it’s a short hop to Corona Borealis, the northern crown. This fainter constellation is easily overlooked but once identified is a joy to contemplate. Continuing towards the bright white star of Vega, you will cross the keystone-shaped central section of Hercules, the hero.

Observers in the southern hemisphere can also enjoy these constellations at this time of year. They hug the northern horizon at midnight, and appear upside down.


Contributor

Stuart Clark

The GuardianTramp

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