Weekly Stargazing Tips

Provided by StarDate.org. Unless otherwise specified, viewing times are local time regardless of time zone, and are good for the entire Lower 48 states (and, generally, for Alaska and Hawaii).

September 22: Autumn

Autumn arrives in the northern hemisphere at 3:02 p.m. CDT, the moment of the autumnal equinox. The season changes when the Sun crosses the equator from north to south. The Sun will continue its southward trek until the winter solstice, in December.

September 23: Cetus

The constellation Cetus, the whale or sea monster, is swinging into view in the evening sky. It is low on the eastern horizon around 10 or 11 p.m., and never climbs very high during the night.

September 24: Scutum

Scutum, a small, faint “shield” of stars, scoots across the southwestern sky on early autumn nights. It represents the coat of arms on the shield of John Sobieski, a 17th-century king of Poland and one of that country’s great heroes.

September 25: Moon and Companions

Antares, the bright heart of the scorpion, stands below the Moon as night falls, shining bright orange. The brighter planet Saturn is about the same distance to the left of the Moon.

September 26: Moon and Saturn

A pair of bright objects stands in the southwest this evening: the Moon and the planet Saturn. Saturn, the solar system’s second-largest planet, perches below the Moon, and looks like a bright star.

September 27: First-Quarter Moon

The Moon is at first quarter tonight. Sunlight illuminates exactly one-half of the lunar hemisphere that faces Earth. The sunlit portion of the Moon will continue to grow until the Moon is full on October 5, the date of the Harvest Moon.

September 28: Eagles

Several eagles soar across the sky tonight. The brightest is the star Vega, the swooping eagle, which is overhead at nightfall. Altair, the flying eagle, is in the southeast. The Eagle Nebula is a cloud of gas and dust that outlines a bird of prey with open wings.