Last Week's Stargazing Tips

September 2: Zenith

Two points of the Summer Triangle crown the sky tonight. Depending on your latitude, they can pass at or quite close to the zenith, the point directly overhead. Vega is up first, in early evening, followed by Deneb a couple of hours later.

September 1: Venus and Mars

Venus, the “morning star,” perches low in the east at first light tomorrow, with much-fainter Mars not far to its upper left. They will stand side by side on Friday and Saturday, with Venus slowly pulling away from Mars after that.

August 31: Neptune at Opposition II

With strong binoculars or a telescope, this is a good time to look for the planet Neptune. It is in view all night, and shines brightest for the year. It looks like a faint blue “star” in Aquarius, which is low in the east-southeast at nightfall.

August 30: Neptune at Opposition

Neptune is floating through Aquarius, the water bearer. The planet lines up opposite the Sun right now, so it rises around sunset and remains in view all night. It shines brightest for the year as well, although too faint to see with the eye alone.

August 29: Moving Lights

Countless lights fill the night sky, from stars and planets to airplanes and weather balloons. One of the brightest is the International Space Station, which is sometimes visible in the deep twilight before sunrise or after sunset.

August 28: Celestial Sea

The Moon swims through the celestial “sea” tonight, a group of constellations related to water. As darkness falls, it is near the edge of Capricornus, which stretches to the right of the Moon. By the time the Moon sets, though, it will have moved into Aquarius, the water bearer.

August 27: Taurus Rising

Taurus, the bull, is one of the highlights of the early morning sky. It clears the horizon by around 1 or 2 a.m. Near the tip of one of its horns is one of the most famous objects in the sky: the Crab Nebula, the wispy remnant of an exploded star.

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