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The Question

(Submitted December 01, 1996)

Where can you find Sagittarius in the sky on winter and summer nights? And how do I know when I've found it?

The Answer

Sagittarius is a summer constellation --- the best time of the year is August to see it at 9pm. Sagittarius is also a Southern constellation: if you're in North America, it can be seen roughly towards the south and will not rise very high on the sky.

You can find out the shape the stars in Sagittarius make

  1. by checking it at http://www.astro.wisc.edu/~dolan/constellations/
  2. by buying a planisphere (star wheel)
  3. by looking up a magazine like "Sky & Telescope" or "Astronomy".
  4. or by buying a book on stars and constellations.
Some people have likened this shape to a tea-pot, which might help you remember once you've seen a picture. If you're not familiar with the summer sky, you might want to start by locating the neighboring constellation, Scorpius, which I find is easier to spot, then look to its left.

Hope this helps,

Koji Mukai
for Imagine the Universe!

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