Time for a cuppa! Can you see a “Teapot” in the night sky? Yes, there’s really a teapot up there! But we haven’t found the kitchen sink yet!
The “Teapot” is what’s known as an asterism rather than a constellation. A constellation is an area of the sky that is officially recognised by the International Astronomical Union, whereas an asterism is a pattern of stars that we can use to make up a recognisable shape or object. Some asterisms form part of official constellations.
The “Teapot” asterism is part of the constellation of Sagittarius. In the Southern Hemisphere, Sagittarius appears upside down and so is the “Teapot”. Grab a nice cup of tea, head outside, use the Moon as your guide and try and see if you can see the “Teapot”.
When and where to look: Look directly above at around 8.30 pm on 28 August. First, find the Moon. That’s easy! You’ll see bright Jupiter on one side of the Moon. Directly opposite, on the other side of the Moon, is a bright star called Kaus Borealis. This star marks the top of the lid of the “Teapot”. The spout is higher up and to the left. The handle is to the right.
When you look towards the constellation of Sagittarius, you’re looking to the heart of the Milky Way Galaxy. In the Southern Hemisphere the heart of the Milky Way is high overhead. We’re lucky to see it much better here than in the Northern Hemisphere.
More stargazing: Find out what else is up in WA’s beautiful dark night sky at www.astrotourismwa.com.au/stargazing.