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Star Gazing - September 16, 2019
Monday, Sept. 16
• As autumn approaches (the equinox is on the night of September 22-23 this year), the Sagittarius Teapot
moves west of south and tips increasingly far over to the right during evening, as if pouring out the last of
summer. Spot the Teapot under Saturn.
Tuesday, Sept. 17
• You know the season is changing; we've reached the time of year when, just after nightfall, Cassiopeia has
already climbed a little higher in the northeast than the Big Dipper has sunk in the northwest. Cas reigns high
in early evening during the chilly fall-winter half of the year. The Big Dipper takes over for the milder
evenings of spring and summer.
Almost midway between them stands Polaris. It's currently a little above their midpoint.
Moon, Aldebaran, Pleiades at dawn, Sept. 19-21, 2019
The waning Moon now crosses Taurus, high in the sky as dawn begins to brighten (which is not necessarily at
6 a.m.; that depends on your location in your time zone).
Wednesday, Sept. 18
• This is the time of year when the rich Cygnus Milky Way crosses the zenith in early evening (for
skywatchers at mid-northern latitudes). The Milky Way extends straight up from the southwest horizon,
passed overhead, and runs straight down to the northeast.
Thursday, Sept. 19
• In the west off to the Big Dipper's left, bright Arcturus, the "Spring Star," shines a little lower at nightfall
each week. From Arcturus, the narrow kite-shaped pattern of Bootes extends 24° to the upper right.
• If you're up before dawn Friday morning, you'll find the waning gibbous Moon high with Aldebaran near it,
as shown above.
Friday, Sept. 20
• These moonless evenings are a good time to bring out your binoculars and try for the unusually small,
compact open cluster NGC 7160 in the rich center of Cepheus, now high in the north — as Matt Wedel tells
in his Binocular Highlight, with finder chart, in the center of the September Sky & Telescope.
Saturday, Sept. 21
• Last-quarter Moon (exact at 10:41 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time). Tonight the Moon rises around midnight
daylight-saving time, depending on your location. Watch for it to clear the east-northeast horizon lower right
of Capella and lower left of the Pleiades.
By the first sign of Sunday's dawn the Moon shines high in the southeast, now with Orion to its lower right
and Gemini to its lower left. How often do you examine the Moon with your telescope when the Moon is its
late-night waning phases? To most of us, the waxing Moon of evening is much more familiar — when lunar
mountains and crater walls cast their shadows in the opposite direction.
• Summer's not quite over yet! The September equinox this year comes at 3:50 a.m. September 23rd EDT.
Starry, Starry Night . . .
"I know nothing of any certainty, but the sight of the stars
makes me dream." -Vincent Van Gogh