The sky is now pretty dark by midnight - and split in half by the misty trail of the Milky Way

First published in Opinion The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by

NO PROMISES, but it's still worth keeping an eye on the northern sky after dark, just in case the 2014 Noctilucent Cloud season decides to go out with a bang and give us one last beautiful display. Cross those fingers!

The sky is now pretty dark by midnight, and split in half by the misty trail of the Milky Way. Look halfway up in the eastern sky and you'll see a small ‘W’ of stars. This is Cassiopeia, and it is surrounded by fascinating celestial sights. Just beneath it, on the left, are two small star clusters, snuggled up side by side. They look beautiful through binoculars.

To the lower right of the W is an elongated smudge of light - the Andromeda Galaxy, an enormous spiral of billions of stars that, at more than two million light years away, is the most distant object the naked eye can see. Through binoculars you'll see it as a lovely, misty grey-blue oval.

Keep an eye out for shooting stars too - there's a meteor shower soon.

Stuart Atkinson, Eddington Astronomical Society of Kendal

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