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Last Week's Stargazing Tips

September 18: Zodiacal Light

Under dark skies, you might see a glowing pyramid of light in the eastern sky before dawn over the next few days. It’s called zodiacal light because it appears along the zodiac. It’s caused by sunlight illuminating dust grains in the plane of the solar system.

September 17: Perseus Rising

Perseus is climbing into the evening sky this month. Tonight, it’s in good view, in the northeast, by about 10:30. It rises a few minutes earlier each night, providing more time to enjoy one of the highlights of the autumn sky.

September 16: New Moon

The Moon will be new at 6 a.m. CDT tomorrow as it crosses the imaginary line between Earth and the Sun. It will return to view as a thin crescent, low in the western sky, on Friday.

September 15: Autumn Milky Way

If you can get away from city lights, this is a good time to gaze at the Milky Way, which is the combined glow of millions of stars in the disk of the Milky Way Galaxy. It arcs high overhead during the evening.

September 14: Trappist-1

Aquarius is in the southeast at nightfall. One of its most famous denizens is Trappist-1, a star system that hosts at least seven planets. It’s near the border with Pisces. The star is only 40 light-years away, yet it’s too faint to see without a big telescope.

September 13: Moon and Venus

A beautiful trio highlights the eastern sky at dawn tomorrow: the crescent Moon; Venus, the “morning star;” and M44, the Beehive star cluster. The cluster stands close above the Moon and Venus, although you need binoculars to pick it out.

September 12: Alpheratz

Alpheratz — a name that means “the horse’s shoulder” — is the brightest star of the Great Square of Pegasus. It’s at the left-hand point of the square during the evening hours. Officially, though, it’s a member of the adjoining constellation Andromeda.