Highlights of the September Night Sky
Brought to you by: Bob Haskins @ Waterville Estates
Do your part and help preserve the dark skies that we are fortunate to have in
Turn off all unnecessary outdoor lighting
Go outside tonight and discover the treasures of the night sky
The Planets: “Evenings on the Ecliptic” The planets follow an imaginary path in the sky
called the ecliptic.
Dusk and into the night:
Jupiter: Look for the brilliant planet in the South and to the left of the constellation Sagittarius
or more commonly know as the “Teapot”. Jupiter appears a few hours after sunset at the
beginning of the month and 45 minutes toward the end of the month. See if you can recognize
the shape of the teapot.
Saturn: Look to the left of Jupiter and you will spot Saturn.
Mars: The “Red” planet rises in the East a few hours after sunset and grows more brightly as
the month progress’s. Toward the end of the month Mars will out shine Jupiter; presently it
outshines Sirius the brightest star in the sky.
Dawn: Venus is visible fairly high in the East at dawn.
Full on the 2nd
New on the 17th
Stars and Constellations:
The brilliant stars of Summer are peaking. Look for my favorite summer star alignment,
the “Summer Triangle”, which is high in the sky one hour after sunset. The three stars making
up the triangle are “Vega”, the brightest of the three, “Deneb” and “Altair”. Vega is almost
directly overhead and forms part of the constellation Lyra. As the sky grows darker you will be
able to make out the wing of the “Swan” and it’s long neck and Deneb forming the tail. The
constellation appears to be flying south through the heart of our own “Milky Way” galaxy. Flying
in the opposite direction on a collision course with the Swan is the constellation “ Aquila” or the
Eagle with Altair forming part of the wing. The Eagle, according to Greek legend, was the bird of
Zeus the king of the ancient gods. In 1918 a nova appeared in the Eagle constellation that
outshone Sirius, our brightest star in our sky, for a short while.
Look to the north for the “Big Dipper”, which is fairly easy to spot this time of year.
Remember to follow the handle of the dipper,which is curved, and it will lead you to our brightest
star in the summer sky, Arcturus.
Look to the south to view the constellation “Sagittarius” the archer which today most
people refer to as “The Teapot”. It is located low in the south and it actually looks like a teapot
complete with a handle, spout and lid. Also to the right of the “Teapot” see if you can spot
“Scorpius”, with its evil red eye and stinger. Between the Teapot and Scorpius lies the center of
our home galaxy, the Milky Way.
It’s been 40 years since the Voyager 1 spacecraft soared beneath Saturn’s rings. The flyby
forever changed our understanding of the planet. Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 and it’s twin
Voyager 2, went on to study Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Voyager 1 also gave us a
new way to think about our place in the universe. In 1990, the spacecraft captured the now-
iconic image of Earth known as “The Pale Blue Dot”.
The Voyagers are now the longest operating and most distant spacecraft in history. They are
now both in interstellar space 12 billion miles from Earth and 40,000 years from now will reach
Proxima Centaurs,our nearest star.
Factoid of the Month:
The largest single object in the night sky is our Milky Way Galaxy which makes a full 360o circuit
around the heavens – our home. We are located in the suburbs so to speak on the outskirts of
our galaxy. The center of our galaxy, the central bulge which contains a black hole, lies between
the constellations Scorpius and the Teapot. We cannot see the center because it is hidden by
gas clouds. We are not alone, our universe contains 100 billion other galaxies.
Astronomy Websites to explore:
• heavens-above.com (satellites that are passing overhe
• skymaps.com (The evening sky map for the month)
• spotthestation.nasa.gov (sign up for alerts for the International Space Station as it