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Look for the Dog Star this week

Use a popular constellation to help you find the brightest star in the night sky.
Credit: First Quarter Moon

The First Quarter Moon will arrive early in the week. It’ll officially arrive at 1:58 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon so look for the half-moon in the evening.

Credit: The Moon, Jupiter & Saturn

Use the Moon to help you find two planets at nightfall starting Thursday. 

The Moon will be very close to Jupiter on Friday night and Saturn on Saturday, it’ll wax brighter each evening as well. Above is how you’ll find the trio on Friday evening.

Credit: NASA/SAO/CXC
The Chandra X-ray image of Sirius A & B, a double star system located 8.6 light years from Earth, shows a bright source and a dim source. The central bright source is Sirius B, a dense white dwarf star with a surface temperature of about 25,000 degrees Celsius. The dim source (slightly above and to the right of Sirius B) is Sirius A, a normal star more than twice as massive as the Sun. The spoke-like pattern of light is an instrument artifact due to the transmission grating. The white dwarf, Sirius B, has a mass equal to the mass of the Sun packed into a diameter that is 90% that of the Earth. The gravity on the surface of Sirius B is 400,000 times that of Earth!

The “Dog Days” of summer ended earlier this month and now you can find Sirius, the Dog Star (because it’s in the constellation Canis Major, “The Great Dog”), in the morning sky. 

The “Dog Days” get their name because of the Dog Star. Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky. Every year around July 23 the star and the Sun line up in conjunction. 

This means the two rise and set together. The ancients believed that this brought added heat to the summer months and the “Dog Days” are generally defined as the 40 days when the two brightest stars in the sky are so close together meaning they last from July 3 to August 11. 

We’ve since learned that the Earth’s tilt on its axis is responsible for the changing seasons but the term has survived into modern culture.

Credit: Hunt for the Dog Star

To find Sirius just look for Orion in the southeastern sky before sunrise. The three stars are known as “Orion’s Belt” will line up nicely with the Dog Star which hangs just below them. 

It’ll be shining brightly so it’ll be tough to miss. Happy Hunting!