DR. SKY BLOG

Changing weather to deliver great September night sights in Arizona

Sep 5, 2017, 7:02 PM
(Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle via AP)...
(Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle via AP)
(Michael Holahan/The Augusta Chronicle via AP)

With the coming close of summer and monsoon season, get set for some amazing things in our September skies.

The official change of the seasons will occur for us on Sept. 22 at 1:02 p.m. as we approach the annual autumnal equinox.

This is when the sun crosses the equator and days and nights are close to equal in length.

This time of year means some cooler and drier air for us in Arizona that will help us experience the many wonders of the night sky.

Watch as the moon moves on to another bright and amazing full moon on Tuesday night. This moon is officially known as the Corn Moon, named in honor of the harvest season for corn and other produce.

The Corn Moon will ride along the ecliptic path and the stars of the Aquarius constellation.

September is also a great time to see some of the major planets of the solar system.

Look low in the west at sunset as Jupiter continues to shine bright from a distance of some 577 million miles. The light shining off the gas giant takes about 70 minutes to reach Earth.

That distance by light speed, would take around 70 minutes for light to get to Jupiter alone.

Turn a little to the left after sunset for a glimpse of Saturn, which is the bright object hanging low in the south at sunset.

The secrets of Saturn — its rings and moons — are revealed when you look through a telescope. Saturn lies in the starry region known as the constellation of Ophichus.

In the morning sky, we will get a rare glimpse of the innermost planet, Mercury. Look low in the east around Sept. 12, as Mercury will be some 18 degrees from the rising sun.

Also on Sept. 12, keep an eye on the moon. It will cover a star, Aldebaran, in the early morning hours.

To see it in Arizona, you will need a clear view of the eastern sky about 4:48 a.m. The star will pop out on the dark edge of the moon around 6 a.m.

Try looking at the moon ahead of these times to make sure you see the star close to the bright edge of the moon before it disappears!

The moon, Venus and the star Regulus will form a nice conjunction in the pre-dawn sky, on the morning of Sept. 18. This is will be a good time to use your digital camera.

Finally, Venus will be the bright planet that lies in the east just before dawn. Venus is so bright that many think it is an aircraft, UFO or something other than a planet. Now you know!

Here is a link to the September star chart, so you can follow along with other wonders in the night sky.

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Changing weather to deliver great September night sights in Arizona