Weekly Stargazing Tips

Unless otherwise specified, viewing times are local time regardless of time zone, and are good for the entire Lower 48 states (and, generally, for Alaska and Hawaii). Check out last week's tips if you missed a night.

Autumnal Equinox

Autumn arrives tomorrow at the autumnal equinox, the day on which the Sun crosses the equator heading south. Over the next three months the Sun will move even farther south, bringing shorter, cooler days to the northern hemisphere.

Autumnal Equinox

Under the astronomical calendar, today is the autumnal equinox. The Sun crosses the equator from north to south, marking the start of autumn in the northern hemisphere and spring in the southern hemisphere.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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