Tired of the summer heat? The "winter stars" we associate with those long, cold nights of January or February can be seen the next clear July morning. Why wait?!

Get up real early- or stay up really late- and take in those glorious winter stars, minus the snow and ice, parkas, boots, scarves and earmuffs. You may need a sweater. Early summer mornings are often nice and cool- refreshingly so!

There was a time when it was normal to get up with the chickens. Now you can hardly find a chicken. Those who rouse themselves before the break of day in the height of summer will enjoy the crisp, quiet night- punctuated mainly by the sounds of nocturnal creatures who we’d like to think must know the stars pretty well.

The pre-dawn sky is usually reserved for the morning birds among us. They’re the folks the rest of us night owls have to remember to not dare try and telephone, after 9 p.m.

Look out at about 4 a.m. (gasp)  in the latter half of July while the sky is still fairly dark. The Pleiades will be shimmering (not shivering) fairly high in the east. Most people can count six stars without binoculars; some can detect even more.

To the left is the bright yellow star Capella. To the lower left of the Pleiades is the orange-red star Aldebaran, at the end of a "V" shaped star cluster called the Hyades. The "V" appears on its side. Aldebaran is much closer to us than the Hyades stars and only by chance alignment does Aldebaran look like it may be part of the cluster.

About a half hour before sunrise- around 5 a.m. (still "gasp" if you’re not used to it). If you have a low, clear view of the east you should be able to see the bright red star Betelgeuse, which marks the top left shoulder of Orion’s figure of a mythological hunter. To the right is the bright blue-white star Rigel, one of Orion’s "feet." Between these two are the three stars marking Orion’s Belt, which at this low angle may appear practically vertical. If the glare of dawn is too much you might not see them; binoculars will help.

PLANETS: In the evening, enjoy the planetary parade. During evening twilight look for the brilliantly white Venus high in the  west. In the south will be Jupiter, shining like a very bright white star.

Saturn is in the south-southeast in late twilight and higher in the southern sky around 11 p.m. or midnight.

Look for the brilliant orange- red planet Mars, which is low in the southeast during evening twilight. Mars is highest around 2 a.m. in the south. Mars reaches "opposition" July 31, rising at about sunset and in the sky all night. This is the closest Mars is to the Earth since 2004, which is why it is so bright this year.

Full Moon is on July 27.

Keep looking up!

— Peter Becker is Managing Editor at The News Eagle in Hawley, PA. Notes are welcome at news@neagle.com. Please mention in what newspaper or web site you read this column. Thanks for reading!