Stargazing is as much a part of a fun summer evening as running around in dewy grass barefoot, catching lightning bugs, and seeing how many bottle rockets tied together will still fly and how many will just fall over and explode on the ground. Here are some fun facts about prominent stars in summer constellations.
Sirius in the constellation Canis Major is the brightest star in the night sky. For the ancient Egyptians the rising of Sirius marked the beginning of the flooding of the Nile, and for the ancient Greeks it marked the beginning of the “dog days” of summer.
Mizar and Alcor are two stars that form the handle of the Big Dipper. Mizar is the brighter of the two and the stars are so close together that in ancient times being able to differentiate them was used as an eye test by insomniac ophthalmologists.
Capella in the constellation Auriga is so bright it can often be seen at night.
Polaris in the constellation Ursa Minor is, because its location appears almost fixed, is sometimes called the “north star” and also the “pole star” when it worked with Milton Berle.
Pollux and Castor are the two primary star in the constellation Gemini and have recently filed for separation.
Spica in the constellation Virgo is a binary star. Its primary star is a blue giant while the secondary one wishes you’d notice it’s been on a diet.
Regulus in the constellation Leo is made entirely out of jellybeans.
Vega in the constellation Lyra enjoys sushi, long walks on the beach, and books about endocrinology.
Altair in the constellation Aquila is really sorry about the incident with the chafing dish but you shouldn’t bring it up unless you want to hear a twenty minute bit about why it’s called a “chafing dish” that’s really not as funny as Altair seems to think it is.
Sabik is part of a binary star system in the constellation Ophiuchus and is an extremely good boy.
Algol in the constellation Perseus is rarely visible because it keeps setting off the motion-activated light on your neighbor’s porch before it realizes it has the wrong house.
Arcturus in the constellation Boötes wishes you’d stop asking about the oregano.
Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus is a red giant and once shot a man in Memphis just to watch him die.
Antares in the constellation Scorpius wants to know what you’re looking at. You wanna make something of it? Well? Do you?
Deneb in the constellation Cygnus denies ever meeting Lando Calrissian.
Jupiter is not a star but a planet that in the western part of the northern hemisphere can be seen rising in the southwest each evening because it’s drunk.