The Sky Above Chicago

You can see celestial objects from Chicago. You just have to look up. Try looking for some of these things during the month of September 2015. Just give your eyes a few minutes to adjust to the dark.



Early in the evening all month, you can spot Saturn low in the southwest sky. If you have binoculars you may be able to see its rings.

You'll have to wait until early morning, before sunrise, to see Mars, Venus and Jupiter. Jupiter is very close to the Sun, so it will be hard to see. Venus will be very bright.


Bright Stars

At sunset and for several hours after, you can see three bright stars straight overhead. These three, Deneb, Altair and Vega, belong to three different constellations but since they make up a triangle, we call them the Summer Triangle. They are bright enough to be seen in Chicago. Vega is interesting because it used to be the North star and it will be again in the future!


Constellations - Early in the evening

In the Northern Sky - Look for the Big Dipper, which is part of the constellation Ursa Major. It is close to the horizon. Move up toward the center of the sky and you can find Ursa Minor, or the Little Dipper.

Keep moving across the sky toward the south and you will see the three stars of the Summer Triangle. The star closest to center of the sky is Deneb. This is part of the constellation Cygnus the Swan. The constellation looks like a cross so it also has the nickname the Northern Cross. The bright star to the west of Deneb is Vega, the brightest star in the constellation Lyra. This constellation is the shape of a parallelogram. The bright star nearest the southern horizon is Altair in the constellation Aquila the Eagle.

Background Picture - APOD 5/2/2014