THE 2014 NLC season is just about over, and hopefully some of you saw those mysterious and beautiful electric blue clouds shining in the north at least once during the past couple of months. If you didn't you'll have to wait until next June!

Like it or not, it's almost August, and the sky is starting to get a little darker late at night now. By midnight there are lots of stars in the sky. Look directly overhead at midnight and you'll see the bright icy blue-white Vega. With its slightly fainter close neighbours Deneb and Altair it forms a famous pattern of stars (not a constellation, though) called The Summer Triangle.

Now is also the time the Milky Way starts to become more visible. To the naked eye it looks like a broad but very faint rainbow of misty starlight which arcs across the sky from the north east to the south, almost like smoke. Binoculars reveal it to be made up of countless hundreds of thousands of tiny faint stars. Sweep your binocs up and down its length and you'll see one star cluster after another, looking like tiny piles of diamond dust shining against the blackness of space.

Stuart Atkinson, Eddington Astronomical Society of Kendal