SEPTEMBER 2005 SKYWATCH
by Maya del Mar
Does it seem that the dark is coming quickly on us? It is, for September is the month when darkness increases at the years fastest rate. Night grows by about 20 minutes/week across central U.S., and by nearly an hour/week in Fairbanks, Alaska.
September is also the best month of the year for seeing the Milky Way, a faint river of myriads of stars running from northwest to southeast across the top of the celestial orb. You can mark the Milky Way by finding the bright stars Altair or Deneb, and the constellation of Cassiopeia.
For those with a clear view of the evening twilight western horizon, we have the spectacular conjunction of bright Jupiter and brilliant Venus on September 1, and into the first week of September. On September 6, the new crescent Moon joins them to provide a special treat. Scan low in the southwest 40-45 minutes after sunset. The bright star just below Venus is Spica.
Spica has a Venus-Mars nature. Combined with Venus or Jupiter, it is said to give success to humble people of lowly origin. Spica is the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo, and sits on the ecliptic at 24 Libra. The Jupiter-Venus conjunction is at 19 Libra, and Pallas Athena joins the gang at 23 Libra.
On September 6, Moon emphasizes this special grouping in a public way. It looks like a very good omen for the easy confirmation of Judge Roberts as Supreme Court Justice. His hearings begin then.
Rust-red Mars is becoming larger to our view. It rises before midnight, and rises earlier as the month moves on. It is best viewed a few hours after rising, when it is higher in the sky. To its left is the Pleiades, and below the Pleiades is the red star Aldebaran, the Eye of the Bull.
We have to rise early to catch Golden Saturn, for it rises two hours before the Sun. During the first week of September, Mercury is visible low in the east in the early morning sky.
All of the planets, then, are visible during the first week of September!