The night sky in September

Look for the false dawn to the east before sunrise

The red star meets the red planet and the Zodiacal Light points towards Jupiter this month.

As Mars moves toward its encounter with comet “Siding Spring” next month, the red planet passes several bright stars.

After sunset in the southwest sky on Sept. 12 at around 8:45 p.m. looking west towards Metchosin, you will see Mars halfway between Saturn and Antares, compare the red hues of Mars and Antares with your own eyes.

By Sept. 27, if you look west of Port Angeles towards  the Pacific Ocean, the two appear about three degrees apart, low in the southwest sky after sunset.

Like last month, the moon skips through the sky, appearing to the lower right of Saturn on Sept. 27, between Mars and Saturn on Sept. 28, and above Mars on Sept. 29, forming a straight line with Antares.

Meanwhile, in the morning sky, looking east toward Mount Baker, Jupiter rises higher. Use the moon to find it on the morning of Sept. 20.

You can also use Jupiter to look for a huge pyramid of light appearing one to two hours before sunrise.

The pyramid, called the Zodiacal Light, is sometimes confused with the Milky Way and sometimes called the false dawn.

It can even look like faint city lights if you are driving east before sunrise.

The Zodiacal Light is best seen from mid-September to early October.

It’s the reflection of sunlight off cosmic dust particles, the debris from comet and asteroid collisions in our solar system.

Some of these dust particles enter Earth’s atmosphere as sporadic or random meteors. But most of the dust particles producing the Zodiacal Light settle into a lens- or pancake-shaped, tapering, cone of light fattest near the sun and extending all the way out to Jupiter’s orbit.

Most of the material is located near the plane of the solar system, the ecliptic: the flat disk where the planets orbit.

The Zodiacal Light is seen along the narrow pathway of this flat plane. When you look at the eastern horizon before dawn in autumn, the ecliptic is nearly vertical in the sky.

Dark Skies to all friends of Cattle Point Star Park.

This summary is from What’s Up In September 2014 by NASA announcer and astronomer Jane Houston Jones with specific permission for localization to Cattle Point Urban Star Park and the Oak Bay News.

For more information on each event, go to cattlepointstarpark.org.

Bill Smith is a volunteer at Cattle Point DARK SKY Urban Star Park

 

Just Posted

Young girls fight STEM stigma with hackathon

Three SD62 middle schools took part in the Hackergal Hackathon

Victoria dad laments loss of provincial accessible parking standards

Push for CRD to address regional parking standards

British Columbians saw their paycheques shrink in September

Average weekly earnings dropped to $978.10 in September, but year-to-year earnings rose 2.2 per cent

Oak Bay teen targets 1,000 toys

Toy drive for Stan Hagen Centre For Families is Dec. 15 and 16 on Oak Bay Avenue

Victoria Police investigate stabbing in restaurant on Douglas Street

Police were called to the 800-block around 1:30 p.m.

WATCH: Hundreds of gifts go out to Victoria’s Our Place patrons

The Angel Gifts Program saw 700 Christmas presents go out to the community

POLL: Are you dreaming of a white Christmas?

The rain Vancouver Island is famous for is coming down in buckets,… Continue reading

Vancouver Island man named Philadelphia Flyers assistant GM

Courtenay’s Brent Flahr spent nine-plus years in Minnesota

Warning issued as forecast calls for 20-foot waves in Tofino

Dangerous waves, strong currents and upper-shoreline flooding expected for Tofino-Ucluelet area

An 800-pound pig named Theodore needs a forever home, B.C. society says

‘Theodore is not destined to be somebody’s bacon’

Teenager Alphonso Davies wins Canadian Men’s Soccer Player for the Year Award

Derek Cornelius and Chilliwack native, Jordyn Huitema were named Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

B.C. teen MMA fighter shows heart

Young Unity MMA competitors bring home Ws

2,000 Canadians died of an overdose in first 6 months of the year

New data from the Public Health Agency of Canada shows the crisis is not subsiding

Most Read