I don’t know about you, but with what’s been going on in our world we’ll take every bit of good news that we can. Well, we have some. It will officially be summer this weekend with the summer solstice. The sun is in its most northern position of the year. Because of that, the sun will take its highest and longest arc across the sky. We won’t talk about days getting shorter after this weekend though.

Without a doubt, the brightest star in the Shamokin summer night sky is Arcturus. It’s actually been visible in the evening sky since February when it was barely above the horizon in the early evening. I love it when Arcturus starts to appear because it’s a promise that summer’s on the way. Once again, the promise has been kept. Earth has moved far enough in its orbit around the sun to give us a more direct view of Arcturus. That’s why it’s so much higher in the evening sky. As twilight fades Arcturus pops into view very high in the southern sky — you can’t miss it — it’s the brightest star in the sky. If you want even more confirmation you’re seeing Arcturus, just use the old reliable stargazing tool, “Arc to Arcturus.” Find the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper, and with your mind’s eye extend that arc beyond the end of the Dipper’s handle. You’ll run right into Arcturus, guaranteed.

Mike Lynch is an amateur astronomer and retired broadcast meteorologist for WCCO Radio in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

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