YOU have probably noticed that it's not getting dark enough to see any stars now until gone 10pm, and it's not properly dark until half an hour after that, writes STUART ATKINSON. Look at the sky at that time and you'll see most of the stars and constellations of winter have already set in the west, surrendering the heavens to the stars and constellations of spring.

As darkness falls you can easily see the constellation of Leo, The Lion, shining high in the south. The mighty lion's head looks a lot like the head of the famous Sphinx statue, although many people see Leo's head as a back to front question mark instead, with the bright star Regulus fluttering and flashing at the bottom of it.

Regulus is a bright, star but if you look to its lower left, down towards the north eastern horizon, you'll see a much brighter bright blue white star just above the treetops or roofs. This is Vega, one of the brightest stars in the whole of the sky. It's a summer star really - it will be shining brightly overhead on August nights - but it is already peeking above our horizon before midnight now.

Vega is a young star - at least, compared to our own Sun - which lies around 25 light years away from Earth. That means that when you look at Vega on one of these warm spring evenings the light entering your eye as you do so set off from the star in 1994, around the same time Mr Blobby was in the charts and Justin Bieber was a bawling newborn.

Because of the way Earth wobbles on its axis over long periods of time, Vega was the Pole Star around 14,000 years ago, and it will be again in the year 13,319!