I hope you were able to see the solar eclipse Monday. Even though we don’t have another solar eclipse to look forward to for quite some time, the sky always has something to offer every day.
Tonight, Aug. 24, the 3-day-old moon sets at 9:04 p.m. giving us a dark sky after that. By 9:30 p.m. Aquila the Eagle is almost due south and about 65 degrees above the horizon.
Aquila sits in the Milky Way with a large number of nebulae and star clusters visible through good binoculars and small telescopes. The brightest star in Aquila is Altair which is flanked on each side by a bright star making a line of three stars with Altair in the middle. I have found this line-up of stars to be one of the most recognizable asterisms (pattern of stars) in the sky. This is the head and neck portion of the “eagle.” The wings and body consist of dimmer stars south of these three.
Along the western edge of Aquila there is a large dark band that runs for a long distance from northeast to southwest through the Milky Way. This is the “Great Rift” of the Milky Way. This band of relative darkness hides many intriguing areas of star formation and other astronomical processes of interest to professional astronomers who use infrared imaging and radio telescopes to peer through the dust and gas.