The Celestial Sea wheels into the east and southeast during September evenings. This group of constellations all relate to water. Capricornus, the sea goat; Aquarius, the water bearer; Piscis Austrinus, the southern fish; and Pisces, the fishes are in view as darkness falls. Cetus, the sea monster, and Eridanus, the river, follow behind them. They may share an aquatic theme because autumn was a rainy season in the ancient Mediterranean, where the constellations were named.
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In the Sky This Month
September 22: Autumn
Today is the September equinox, which is the beginning of autumn in the northern hemisphere. This is one of two times of year when the Sun rises due east and sets due west for almost the entire planet (the other is the March equinox).
September 23: First-Quarter Moon
The Moon is at first quarter at 8:55 p.m. CDT today. Sunlight will illuminate half of the lunar hemisphere facing Earth. After that, the Moon will enter its waxing gibbous phase, growing fatter each day until it’s full on October 1.
September 24: Moon and Planets
The Moon has some bright companions this evening. The planet Jupiter is close to the upper left of the Moon, with the fainter planet Saturn farther from the Moon. Jupiter outshines all the other pinpoints of light in the evening sky right now.
September 25: Moon and Saturn
Look for the planet Saturn quite close to the Moon this evening. It looks like a bright star and is just above the Moon at nightfall. The brighter planet Jupiter stands a bit to their right.
September 26: Daytime Shower
The Daytime Sextantid meteor shower is at its peak tomorrow. Most of the meteors zip across the daytime sky, so you can’t see them. But you can hear them by tuning to a weak, low-end FM radio station. When a meteor passes by, the signal will strengthen for a few seconds.
September 27: Fading Symbol
Scorpius, the scorpion, is quite low in the south and southwest as night falls. Its brightest star, Antares, is still easy to see. But the scorpion’s body, which stretches to the lower left of Antares, and its head, to the right of Antares, are harder to pick out.
September 28: Lacerta
Lacerta, the lizard, scurries high overhead on September evenings. It is between the outstretched wings of Cygnus, the swan, and W-shaped Cassiopeia. You need dark skies and a starchart to help you find this squiggle of five stars.
Full Sept. 2, 12:22 am
Last Sept. 10, 4:26 am
New Sept. 17, 6:00 am
First Sept. 23, 8:55 pm
Times are U.S. Central Time.
Apogee September 6
Perigee September 18
The full Moon of September is known as the Fruit Moon or Corn Moon.