Here in the northeastern United States summertime is coming to a close. The early-morning air has again become brisk, and the upcoming Labor Day weekend has the locals packing up their barbecues. When I was a child, this time of year was bittersweet. School nights meant an earlier bedtime and the end of my late-night observing sessions, so I always would spend this time of year looking south. With the threat of homework on the horizon, it was my last opportunity to gaze at the wonders within the constellations Scorpius and Sagittarius.
As if to point the way, the first-quarter Moon shines near Antares in Scorpius tonight. And as the weekend progresses, you can see the growing Moon slide over to the Teapot pattern of Sagittarius. Our satellite's glare might overwhelm some of the fainter deep-sky treasures that highlight this region of sky, but that's okay. Instead of your telescope, just grab your binoculars, have some fun with lunar explorations, and take some time to reexamine these two wonderful star patterns. It's one of the best ways to capture the last days of summer before they blow away in the September breeze.