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 5: Capricornus

Capricornus, the sea-goat, crawls low across the south on September evenings. It is depicted as the head and body of a goat with the tail of a fish. To modern eyes, though, it’s a wide, narrow triangle, with the longest line at the top.

September 6: Milky Way

The Milky Way arches high overhead this evening. This hazy band of light stretches roughly north-south a couple of hours after sunset, outlining the disk of our home galaxy. You need to get away from city lights to see it.

September 7: Labors

The western evening sky offers a figure that seems just right for Labor Day: Hercules, the strongman. In mythology, he had to labor not once, but 12 times. If you have a dark sky, look for Hercules shining faintly in the west after sunset.

September 8: Moon and Venus

Venus shines as the dazzling “morning star” right now. Tomorrow, it poses almost directly below the crescent Moon at first light. The fainter planet Mars is close by as well.

September 9: Moon, Venus, and Mars

A pretty trio decorates the eastern sky at first light tomorrow. Venus, the brilliant “morning star,” stands to the upper right of the Moon. The fainter planet Mars stands to the left or lower left of the Moon.

September 10: Arcturus

Arcturus, a bright yellow star, is in the west this evening. To make sure you have the right star, look for the Big Dipper in the northwest. Follow the curve of its handle away from the bowl until you reach the first bright star, which is Arcturus.

September 11: Lacerta

Lacerta, a flying serpent, soars high overhead this evening. It is a zigzagging line of faint stars between the prominent constellations Cygnus and Cassiopeia. Lacerta is high in the northeast at nightfall, and high overhead around midnight.