Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, September 27,
The Moon starts off our week just past third quarter, which took place the night of
Thursday, September 26. By the night of Friday the 27th, rather by
early morning of Saturday the 28th, it will have slipped into its
fat waning crescent phase that will slim
during the week as it rises ever later until it finally passes
through new on Friday, October 4. Your last glimpse of the ultrathin crescent will be in late dawn the
morning of Thursday the 3rd.
The morning of Saturday the 28th, the Moon will make a nice pairing
with Jupiter, as it passes five degrees south of the giant
planet. Then the morning of Monday the 30th, the waning crescent
will appear up and to the right of Mars. The next morning it will make a fine triangle
with reddish Mars and the star Regulus in Leo, which will appear to the left of the Moon. The
morning of Monday the 2nd finds the Moon well below (to the east
of) the star.
Venus glows brilliantly low above the western horizon in
evening twilight, but you have to catch it early, as it sets just
after the sky gets fully dark. Saturn, farther down, is a difficult sight at best, the
ringed planet effectively gone for the season. Once Venus sets,
the show continues after a break with Jupiter, which rises just
before local midnight (1 AM Daylight Time) within Gemini to the southwest of Castor and Pollux. Mars then quite obviously
rises around 3 AM in eastern Leo
between Cancer's Beehive Cluster (to the west) and
Leo's Regulus (to the east). By dawn the two planets will make a fine
sight as they climb the eastern sky.
With the Moon out of the way, from a dark sight the Milky Way becomes wonderfully visible in
early evening as it cascades from Cygnus (nearly overhead) down through Aquila (and Altair) and Scutum (the Shield) into Sagittarius, after which it drops below the horizon.
Note how as it passes through Cygnus it splits into two streams
separated by the "Great Rift," which is caused by a thick layer of
interstellar dust in the
central plane of our Galaxy. It is there,
within the cold interstellar clouds, that stars are born. To the northeast,
find the rising "W" of Cassiopeia,
then Perseus and Auriga, the latter with bright Capella, not far behind her.