S E P T E M B E R S K Y W A T C H
by Maya del Mar
September is Moon Month. We begin the month on the tail of a lovely Full Moon, and we end the month with the generous Harvest Moon.
Unless youre an early riser, planets are obscure this month. This happens when they are close to the Sun, for we cant see them in our daylight skies.
However, Venus, Queen of the Heavens, sheds her splendid beams on us in the early morning. She is bright enough to be visible throughout the dawn. She just had a meeting with golden Saturn, and the two are still close at the beginning of the month. However, Venus is traveling towards the Sun, and by the end of the month will have "fallen" 30 degrees (a whole sign, or 1/12 of the zodiac) past Saturn. Venus then will be near the bright star in Leo, Regulus.
Mercury, near the horizon and harder to spot, has its best morning view of the year. The winged messenger brightens during September, and rises in the dawn sky until September 10, when it begins its descent. Its best visibility is from September 6-14, when it is riding high (for Mercury).
On the early mornings of September 9 and 10, we can see a special gathering in the morning sky. Check the eastern sky around 5-5:30 a.m. to see an old crescent moon hanging around Saturn, Venus a little below it, and hugging the horizon, Mercury. Mercury is near Regulus then, and is the brightest of the two.
Harvest Moon is the name of the full moon closest to Equinox. It gets its name because the moon rises only a little later each night, and thus the window of the full moons bright light lasts for several daysgreat for harvest, when days are already getting short. This is because the angle of the ecliptic in autumnin the northern hemisphereis very oblique.
At sunrise on the east coast on September 13, observers will be able to see the thin, delicate, fairy-like crescent of the old moon sinking into the rising sun, preparing for rebirth. This is an awesome sight, well worth your attention.