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 19: Moon and Jupiter

The planet Jupiter shines like a brilliant star to the upper left of the Moon early tomorrow. Binoculars reveal its four largest moons. One of them is covered with giant volcanoes while another may have an ocean of liquid water beneath its icy crust.

September 20: Moon and Regulus

Regulus, the brightest star of Leo, the lion, stands close to the left of the crescent Moon at dawn tomorrow. Regulus consists of at least four stars, although only one of them is bright enough to see with the eye alone.

September 21: Autumnal Equinox

Autumn arrives tomorrow at the autumnal equinox, the day on which the Sun crosses the equator heading south. Over the next three months the Sun will move even farther south, bringing shorter, cooler days to the northern hemisphere.

September 22: Autumnal Equinox

Under the astronomical calendar, today is the autumnal equinox. The Sun crosses the equator from north to south, marking the start of autumn in the northern hemisphere and spring in the southern hemisphere.

September 23: Cepheus

Cepheus, the king, rotates high across the north on autumn evenings. In that position, its brightest stars form a pattern that looks a bit like an ice cream cone.

September 24: Doomed Giant

A huge star in Canis Major, the big dog, is probably about to go “boom.” VY Canis Majoris is veiled by dust, so you need a telescope to see it, to the left of the dog’s hindquarters. It is likely to explode in the next million years or so.

September 25: Mars and Antares

Two orange pinpoints huddle close together in the southwest the next few evenings: the planet Mars and the star Antares. Tonight, Antares is to the lower left with Mars to the upper right. Mars will move up and over Antares over the next few nights.