With summer’s luminaries dropping from view, a new season opens up in the evening sky. Pegasus slides into view in the east shortly after night falls, marked by the Great Square. The constellations that form the “celestial sea” — Capricornus, Aquarius, Pisces, and others with a watery theme — flow across the south during the night. The Milky Way arches high overhead during the evening, putting on a grand display from sites with dark skies.
This Week's Stargazing Tips
September 23: Cepheus
Cepheus, the king, rotates high across the north on autumn evenings. In that position, its brightest stars form a pattern that looks a bit like an ice cream cone.
September 24: Doomed Giant
A huge star in Canis Major, the big dog, is probably about to go “boom.” VY Canis Majoris is veiled by dust, so you need a telescope to see it, to the left of the dog’s hindquarters. It is likely to explode in the next million years or so.
September 25: Mars and Antares
Two orange pinpoints huddle close together in the southwest the next few evenings: the planet Mars and the star Antares. Tonight, Antares is to the lower left with Mars to the upper right. Mars will move up and over Antares over the next few nights.
September 26: Capricornus
Capricornus, the “gateway to heaven,” rolls low across the south this evening. It looks like a large triangle, with the longest side aligned east to west. Mythology says it is the gateway for human souls on their way to heaven.
September 27: Moon and Saturn
The planet Saturn stands quite close to the Moon this evening. The giant planet looks like a bright golden star to the upper left of the crescent Moon as night falls. They set about an hour later.
September 28: Moon and Planets
The Moon cruises between two planets early this evening. Saturn looks like a bright star to its lower right, with slightly brighter Mars to its left. The star Antares is below Mars, and shines with the same orange color.
September 29: Moon, Mars, and Antares
There’s a sweet alignment in the southwest as night falls this evening: the Moon, the planet Mars, and the star Antares. Mars and Antares both shine with a distinctly orange color. They line up below the Moon.
Check last week's tips if you missed a day.