Some of the big constellations of autumn begin to push their way into the evening sky this month. Pegasus, the flying horse, is well up in the east at nightfall by month’s end, with Andromeda, the princess, to its left. Under especially dark skies, you should be able to pick out M31, the Andromeda galaxy. Venus, the Evening Star, inches higher in the western sky at sunset. And Mars begins to eke away from Antares and Saturn, although they remain fairly close throughout the month.
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In the Sky This Month
September 28: The Milky Way
The next few evenings offer a great chance to see the Milky Way, the hazy band of light that outlines the disk of our home galaxy. It arcs high across the sky at nightfall, and there’s no Moon around to spoil the show.
September 29: Messier 2
Some of the oldest stars in the galaxy congregate in the globular cluster M2. It is in the southeast at nightfall and wheels high across the south later on. Through binoculars, it looks like a fuzzy patch of light in the northwestern corner of Aquarius.
September 30: Old Clusters
A pair of globular star clusters is in the southeast at nightfall. M15 is highest in the sky, to the upper right of the Great Square of Pegasus. M30 is far below it, in Capricornus. Through binoculars, each looks like a fuzzy star.
October 1: Aquarius
The faint constellation Aquarius is low in the southeast at nightfall on these early autumn nights. Its stars represent a man or boy pouring water from a vase. In Greek mythology, he was the water bearer to the gods.
October 2: Moon and Venus
The planet Venus stands in the west-southwest after sunset this evening. Although it is quite low in the sky, the brilliant “evening star” stands close to the left of the crescent Moon, so you shouldn’t have any trouble spotting it.
October 3: Moon and Companions
Venus, the “evening star,” stands close below the Moon as night falls. Zubenelgenubi, one of the brightest stars of Libra, stands closer to the upper left of Venus. Its name means “the southern claw,” and refers to the star’s history as one of the claws of Scorpius.
October 4: Moon and Planets
Start looking about 30 or 40 minutes after sunset for Venus, the “evening star.” It stands to the lower right of the Moon, quite low in the sky, so you need a clear horizon to spot it. A second planet, Saturn, is farther to the upper left of the Moon.