Constellations in UK Summer: A Stargazer’s Guide to the Night Sky

ConstellationsStewton Stars

Constellations in UK Summer: A Stargazer’s Guide to the Night Sky

ConstellationsStewton Stars

As we welcome the warm nights of summer at Stewton Stars Hideaway in the UK, the sky above us greets us with an exceptional view of various constellations. The beauty of stargazing during this season offers a delightful experience for both casual observers and seasoned astronomers. Among the variety of constellations, certain ones become the highlight as they shine brightly throughout the summer nights.

While numerous constellations decorate the night sky, a distinctive feature visible during the summer months is the Summer Triangle, formed by the stars Altair, Deneb, and Vega found in the constellations Aquila, Cygnus, and Lyra, respectively. As we delve deeper into the dark canvas above, our eyes will undoubtedly be drawn towards other fascinating constellations, such as Sagittarius, Scorpius, Ophiuchus, and Hercules.

With our eyes to the skies, stargazing during the UK summer is a mesmerising experience. We are truly fortunate to be able to witness these constellations forming familiar patterns and asterisms while sharing their celestial splendour with us. So, let us gather our blankets and telescopes, find a comfortable spot, and embrace the magic of the universe as we embark on a journey through the summer constellations of the UK night sky.

Prominent Summer Constellations

Ursa Major

Ursa Major, also known as the Great Bear, is one of the most recognised constellations in the northern hemisphere. It contains the famous asterism known as The Big Dipper or The Plough. This formation of stars can be used to locate the North Star, Polaris, which is a part of the Ursa Minor constellation. Image sourced from earthsky.org click here for full article.

Ursa Minor (pictured)

Our smallest glamping accomodation, The Little Bear, also known as Ursa Minor, is another well-known constellation seen in the UK summer skies. It is home to the North Star, Polaris, which helps individuals determine true north. The Little Dipper asterism is also located within Ursa Minor.


In the southern hemisphere during summer, the constellation Sagittarius is visible. Its central stars form an asterism shaped like a teapot and is most easily viewed in late September. Sagittarius is rich in deep-sky objects such as the Lagoon Nebula and the Trifid Nebula.


The constellation Hercules, one of the largest in the night sky, is visible in the summer skies of the northern hemisphere. It features a prominent asterism called the Keystone, which can be used to find other stars in the constellation as well as deep-sky objects like the Hercules Globular Cluster, M13.


Ophiuchus, known as the Serpent Bearer, can be seen between the constellations Scorpius and Sagittarius during the UK summer season. It is rich in bright stars and deep-sky objects, such as the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex.


Cassiopeia, characterised by its distinctive W shape, is visible all year round in the UK skies. During the summer months, it is most prominent in the northeastern sky, making it an easily recognisable constellation.


The constellation Cepheus, resembling a house-shape, is seen in the northern hemisphere summer skies. It is located close to Cassiopeia and contains several notable variable stars, such as Delta Cephei.


Draco, or the Dragon, is a long, winding constellation composed of fainter stars. In the UK’s summer skies, it can be spotted winding around Ursa Minor. The famous Cat’s Eye Nebula is located within Draco, offering astronomers a fascinating deep-sky object to observe.


The Cygnus constellation, also known as the Swan, is a key feature of the UK’s summer skies. It is home to the bright star Deneb, which forms part of the Summer Triangle along with Vega in Lyra and Altair in Aquila.

Lyra (pictured)

Lyra, the Lyre, our aptly named romantic cabin with log burner, is a small constellation with several noteworthy stars, including the exceptionally bright Vega. During the summer months, Lyra is easily visible and can be used as a guide to find other constellations and deep-sky objects.


Lastly, Aquila or the Eagle is another prominent summer constellation in the UK skies. It features the bright star Altair and is a part of the Summer Triangle. Aquila also provides an opportunity for stargazers to observe numerous bright stars and deep-sky objects.

The Summer Triangle

The Summer Triangle is an astronomical asterism in the northern celestial hemisphere, consisting of three bright stars – Altair, Deneb, and Vega – each belonging to its own constellation. As a prominent feature visible in the UK during the summer months, this distinctive pattern helps both astronomers and stargazers identify the constellations it encompasses.


Altair is the brightest star in the constellation Aquila, the Eagle. This star is positioned at one vertex of the Summer Triangle and can be easily distinguished by its bluish-white light. Situated at a declination of +9°, Altair is known for its rapid rotation, causing the star to display an oblate shape. This unique characteristic makes it an interesting subject for astronomers studying stellar rotation and evolution.


Deneb, another vertex of the Summer Triangle, is the brightest star in the constellation Cygnus, the Swan. Best observed during summer evenings, it is also characterised by a bluish-white hue. Deneb’s position at +45° declination allows it to be visible across a wide range of latitudes. As one of the most luminous stars in our Galaxy, studying Deneb provides valuable insights into the lives and characteristics of massive stars.


Vega, the final vertex of the Summer Triangle, is the brightest star in the constellation Lyra, the Lyre. On summer evenings, Vega passes almost overhead in the UK, standing out due to the lack of other bright stars in the immediate area. Its distinct blue colour and brightness make it a striking target for skygazers using binoculars or telescopes. Vega also serves as a benchmark for astronomers, as it was once considered the northern celestial pole star, and its brightness has been used as a standard for calibrating other stars’ luminosity.

Other Notable Constellations


In the UK summer night sky, we can spot the constellation Boötes, which is known for its bright star Arcturus and has been observed since ancient Greek times. We can easily locate Boötes by following the arc of the Big Dipper’s handle. Arcturus is not only the brightest star in Boötes but also one of the brightest stars in the entire night sky.


Carina, a southern constellation, contains the fascinating Carina Nebula, which is visible through powerful telescopes like the Anglo-Australian Telescope. Though it may not be as prominent from the UK, it is still worth noting for its remarkable celestial features.


Centaurus is another southern constellation that may be challenging to observe in the UK due to its location. However, it’s worth mentioning that it hosts the famous star system Alpha Centauri, which is the closest known star system to our own.


Crux, also known as the Southern Cross, is a prominent constellation in the southern hemisphere. Unfortunately, for observers in the UK, it is not visible due to its far southern location.

Corona Borealis

We can spot Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown, in the UK summer sky. This constellation’s semi-circular pattern of stars represents an ancient Greek legend of a crown worn by the princess Ariadne.


Delphinus, the Dolphin, is a small and charming constellation that can be seen in the summer night sky over the UK. Its compact and easily recognisable shape makes it a favourite for stargazers.

Orion (pictured)

Our family cabin named after Orion, is an iconic constellation that can be seen pictured here with the three stars just above the church. This constellation appears in the UK during the winter months, so it is not visible during the summer season. Nonetheless, it is notable for its striking pattern of stars representing the hunter from ancient Greek mythology.


Virgo, one of the largest constellations, covers a vast area in the UK summer night sky. It is famous for its brightest star, Spica, which is part of an intriguing binary star system.


Capricorn, representing a mythical sea-goat, is visible during the UK summer months. It is one of the twelve zodiac constellations and holds an important place in astrology.


Leo, the Lion, is a well-known constellation visible during the UK summer. Its distinctive pattern of stars, resembling a lion’s mane and body, has been recognised by various cultures, including ancient Greeks and Muslim astronomers.


Libra, the Scales, is another zodiac constellation visible during the UK summer months. It has a significant history, as it symbolised the balance of day and night during the time of the Autumnal Equinox in ancient times.


Scorpio, the Scorpion, is a striking constellation seen during the UK summer. This zodiac constellation is known for its bright star Antares, which has a distinct reddish hue, and its intriguing scorpion-like shape.

Please note that when observing these constellations, it is essential to consider factors such as light pollution, city lights, and moonlight, which can affect visibility. Comprehending the beauty of these constellations and their rich history broadens our perspective and appreciation for the celestial wonders above us.

Stargazing Tips

Choosing Equipment

To make the most out of our stargazing experience, selecting the right equipment is crucial. For beginners, a decent pair of binoculars can greatly enhance our view of the night sky, making it easier to spot constellations and celestial objects. As we progress in our stargazing journey, investing in a telescope will allow us to observe even more details and distant objects.

When choosing binoculars, it’s essential to consider the specifications that will suit our needs best. High magnification may give us a closer view, but it can also make it harder to hold binoculars steady. A wider field of view allows us to see more of the sky at once, which is helpful for identifying constellations.

Finding the Right Location

A critical factor for successful stargazing is finding a location with minimal light pollution. It’s important to seek out dark sky areas, preferably away from built-up towns and cities. These locations enable us to observe fainter celestial objects such as the Polaris and Camelopardalis constellations more clearly. Keep an eye on the weather forecast as well, as a clear night is essential for optimal stargazing.

Stewton Stars Hideaway was chosen for this very purpose, located in a dark sky area, with a tranquil setting, feel free to set up your telescope and enjoy a glass of wine while you bask in the glory of the heavens. With your very own deck with table and chairs, or our Solaris viewing area with outdoor seating and fire pit, you’ll have plenty of room to sit and admire.

Reading Star Charts

To navigate the night sky, we need to learn how to read star charts. Star charts are graphical representations of the celestial sphere and help us identify constellations, stars, and other celestial objects. They can be obtained in print or digital formats, with many excellent smartphone apps available to assist in stargazing.

When using a star chart, it’s essential to orient ourselves correctly. We can start by finding the zenith, which is the point directly overhead. From there, locate Polaris – the North Star – as a reference point to begin identifying other constellations and celestial objects. Star charts often use symbols and labels, so take some time to familiarise ourselves with the notation to better understand what we are observing.

By following these stargazing tips, we can enjoy a rewarding experience as we explore the wonders of the UK summer night sky.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the prominent summer constellations in the UK?

During summer in the UK, we can observe several prominent constellations. One of the most noticeable is the Summer Triangle, which is visible high in the south and southeast throughout the night. Another standout constellation is Cygnus, the Swan, also known as the Northern Cross, easily seen in the evening sky during the summer months.

Which stars have the highest apparent magnitude?

In the summer constellations, some of the stars with the highest apparent magnitude include Deneb in the Cygnus constellation and Vega in the Lyra constellation. Deneb is one of the brightest northern stars and the most distant first magnitude star.

What constellations are visible in the UK during August?

In August, along with the Summer Triangle and Cygnus, other visible constellations include Aquila, Lyra, and Scorpius. Additionally, you can spot the zodiac constellations of Leo and Virgo during this time of the year.

How do spring and autumn constellations differ from summer constellations in the UK?

The constellations visible in the UK change with each season due to the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. The spring and autumn constellations differ from summer constellations as they are located in different parts of the sky, and some may only be visible during specific times of the night. For example, Ursa Major is a prominent constellation visible during March, but may not be as easily seen during the summer nights.

What is the significance of the Cygnus constellation?

The Cygnus constellation holds significance because it is one of the most recognisable summer constellations, and it plays a role in various mythologies. The constellation represents a swan in Greek mythology, associated with the god Zeus. Furthermore, within Cygnus lies the famous Northern Cross, a prominent asterism seen in the summer months.

Which constellation is most visible in the UK during March?

During March in the UK, the most visible constellation is Ursa Major, the Great Bear. Its recognisable pattern, often referred to as the ‘Big Dipper’ or ‘Plough,’ appears in the northern sky and is followed by the zodiac constellations Cancer, Gemini, and Leo.