September 2013 Stargazers Night Sky Guide
Your guide to constellations, deep-sky objects, planets and events. Tonight’s Sky – Highlights of the September Sky
Just after sunset, Saturn and Venus appear low above the western horizon. Try to catch a glimpse of them before they disappear.
Constellations and Deep-Sky Objects
September nights feature the “wet quarter” of the sky. Two neighboring constellations bear ancient references to water.
Aquarius is one of the oldest constellations, recognized even by early civilizations. In ancient mythologies, Aquarius is the god of the waters.Look for the Water Jar, a group of stars shaped like a Y.
A rich, compact cluster of stars can be seen in Aquarius. Known as M2, it contains about 150,000 stars located about 37,500 light-years away.
Binoculars present it well, but a small telescope reveals much more detail in the cluster’s compact center.
Nearby lies the great constellation Capricornus. Known in mythology as the Water Goat, it represents a creature that fed and watered the infant Zeus, ruler of the Greek gods.
Algedi is the brightest star in Capricornus. It’s visible in binoculars as an elongated star.
This odd shape is due to a visual trick. From our distant vantage point, two unrelated stars appear to be close together.
Capricornus also hosts a dense cluster of stars, M30. A small telescope easily resolves individual stars in the cluster.
Majestic Jupiter rises around 2 a.m. and dominates the eastern sky in the hours before dawn. A small telescope exposes the planet’s colored cloud bands.
Ruddy Mars makes its appearance a little later, but still well before sunrise. Look for it in the eastern sky.
This month’s full Moon is known as the Harvest Moon. It rises in the east just before the end of twilight on September 29th in North America (September 30th in Europe and Asia).
The added bright moonlight lengthens the evening to give farmers extra time to harvest their crops.
The night sky is always a celestial showcase. Explore its wonders from your own backyard.
CreditsProduced by the Space Telescope Science Institute, Office of Public Outreach
Starfield images created with Stellarium
Mythological constellation forms from Firmamentum Sobiescianum sive
Uranographia by Johannes Hevelius, courtesy of the United States Naval Observatory
Saturn image courtesy of John Endreson
Venus image courtesy of Mario Weigand
M2 image based on images courtesy of 2MASS/UMass/IPACCaltech/NASA/NSF and the MicroObservatory Robotic Telescope Network
Algedi image courtesy of the Digitized Sky Survey, AURA
M30 image courtesy of 2MASS/UMass/IPAC-Caltech/NASA/NSF
Jupiter image courtesy of Todd Gross
Mars image courtesy of Matt Wedel
Narrated by Nancy Calo
Music written by Jonn Serrie
Production: Lucy Albert, Greg Bacon, John Bintz, John Godfrey, and Vanessa Thomas