StarWatch: September Stars Shine Brightest – Austin Daily Herald

StarWatch: September Stars Shine Brightest

Posted at 1:32 p.m. on Friday, August 26, 2022

By Deane Morrison

University of Minnesota

Warm September nights and darkening skies make this one of the best star sightings of the year.

To the west, brilliant Arcturus slowly sinks, bringing with it its kite-shaped constellation, Bootes the Shepherd. Just east of Bootes hangs the semicircular Corona Borealis, or North Crown; its only bright star is called Gemma or Alphecca. Moving east again, an hourglass of stars sets Hercules’ torso upside down.

Next to Hercules shines Vega – the beacon of Lyra, the lyre and the brightest of the great triangle of summer stars. This month, the Triangle will be high in the south as night falls, that is, in prime viewing position at prime time. Below Vega, a small parallelogram of stars draws the lyre. Moving east again, a slightly darker Deneb, also a Triangle star, marks the tail of Cygnus, the swan and the head of the Northern Cross. To the south, Altaïr, in Aquila, the eagle, forms the sharpest point of the Triangle. And slightly above and east of Altair, little Delphinus, the dolphin, leaps into a dark sea.

The September full moon rises on the evening of the 9th and crosses the night sky between Saturn in the west and Jupiter in the east. On the morning of the 17th, Mars will be sandwiched between Aldebaran – the eye of Taurus, the bull – and a very high last quarter moon. The last quarter moons near the autumnal equinox always rise high, as the northern hemisphere tilts towards their position.

The equinox arrives at 8:03 p.m. on Thursday the 22nd, when the sun passes over the equator in the southern sky and an observer from space would see the Earth lit up from pole to pole.

Earth straddles Jupiter in the orbital race on the 26th. This event puts Jupiter opposite the sun in the sky, so it will be up all night.

Public night sky viewings at the University of Minnesota at its Duluth and Twin Cities campuses have been reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information see: Duluth Planetarium, Marshall W. Alworth: www.d.umn.edu/planet or Twin Cities, Minnesota Astrophysical Institute: www.astro.umn.edu/outreach/pubnight.

Check out astronomy programs, free telescope events and planetarium shows at University of Minnesota Bell Museum: www.bellmuseum.umn.edu/astronomy.

Find U of M astronomers and links to the world of astronomy at: http://www.astro.umn.edu.

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