WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

“First star I see tonight”

Posted June 18, 2010

“Star light, star bright, the first star I see tonight; I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight.”

You may know the nursery rhyme, but do you know whether you’ve been wishing on an actual star?

The first star-like object to become visible after sunset these days is no star. It’s the planet Venus. Venus is in the west and so bright you can see it easily before it’s completely dark.

Probably the first star you’ll notice this time of year as the sky darkens is Arcturus. Look way up because Arcturus will appear almost directly overhead. You may notice it's a bit orange or reddish, similar to Mars, which is toward the west and not as bright.

For help finding Arcturus after other stars become visible, first look for the Big Dipper. Follow the curve of the dipper’s handle and “arc to Arcturus.” Because this star is 37 light years away, when you wish on it, you are wishing on 37-year-old starlight.

See Arcturus, Venus, and much more at Morehead Planetarium and Science Center’s skywatching session Saturday, June 19. Weather permitting, we’ll be at Jordan Lake, Ebenezer Church Recreation Area, from 9 to 11 p.m.

Then at Starry Summer Nights, on Tuesday, June 22, we’ll preview under the planetarium dome the stars and planets visible over the next few months. Register online at the Adult Classes page (under the Events & Activities tab) of the Morehead Web site.

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