Astronomy news for the TWO WEEKS starting Friday, September 14,
The next Skylights will appear September 28, 2012.
We begin with the Moon out of the visible sky, as it passes new on
Saturday, September 15. Watch for the waxing crescent in western twilight the
evening of Tuesday the 18th, when it will be just down and to the
left of Saturn (the planet difficult to see). The
same day, the Moon passes perigee, where
it is closest to the Earth. By the following evening, the growing
crescent will have shifted just to the left of Mars.
Better perhaps is the sight the evening of Thursday the 20th, when
the crescent invades Scorpius with
Antares a bit down and to the
left of it. First quarter is then
finally reached on Saturday the 22nd. The remainder of the week
sees the Moon in its waxing gibbous phase,
during which it passes several degrees north of Neptune (on
Thursday the 27th).
Though visible, Saturn and Mars are pretty much out of it, the
ringed planet setting before twilight ends, the red one just half
an hour after the sky gets fully dark. The Moon, as seen above,
provides the best guide to them. It's far easier to view Jupiter and Venus.
Rising ever earlier, the giant planet now comes up in central Taurus shortly before 11 PM
(Daylight Time) as our period begins, by around 10 PM as it ends.
Venus is then over the horizon by 3:30 or so AM, as it has been for
some time now. Abandoning Gemini awhile back, the brilliant planet now glides to
the southeast of Cancer's Beehive Cluster as it approaches
Regulus in Leo. After admiring Venus, look for Jupiter to cross
the meridian to the south in bright
Enjoy it now: Friday the 21st is the last full day of astronomical
summer, as the Sun crosses the autumnal equinox in Virgo at 9:49 AM CDT (10:49 EDT, 8:49 MDT, 7:49 PDT) on
Saturday the 22nd, when it rises due east, sets due west, and the
durations of day and night (including twilight) are more or less
equal. It also technically sets at the north pole and
rises at the south
With fall at hand, the constellations of the
Andromeda myth are coming into view, rising in mid-evening in
the east and northeast. First up is dim Cepheus, the most northerly of them, which is followed
by the "W" of Cassiopeia, the
curves of stars to the south representing Andromeda herself. She
is connected to the Great
Square of Pegasus, which
can be found to the southeast of Deneb and Cygnus and crosses the meridian around midnight.