Night Sky I

Look right above your head after dark tonight in the UK and in the absence of clouds you’ll see three prominent stars Patrick Moore once named our ‘summer triangle’. On his map Deneb is rather to the north and Altair and Vega rather to the south. I find these a reassuring sight last thing on a clear night, evidence the summer season’s here, in Britain at least. With binoculars you can trace the star family shape or constellation of each bright star: Deneb in the Swan (Cygnus), Altair in the Eagle (Aquila) and Vega in the Lyre (Lyra). 
50 years on from Apollo 11 the Moon is as big a draw as ever to amateur astronomers such as myself. Full moon isn’t the best time to take out the binoculars, there’s more contrast and ridges visible in earlier quarters as it waxes and wanes. Best viewing is near the ‘terminator’, the line dividing lit and unlit portions. Since the Apollo missions we’re aware of the dark grey colour of lunar rocks. This makes the moon’s brightness the more remarkable since…