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

Victoria Women’s March draws hundreds

Pink pussy hats aplenty as demonstrators took to downtown streets

Oak Bay Council agenda at a glance

Regional Transportation Service, major reserve funds, and Oak Bay Heritage on tonight’s agenda

Backyard of $2.2M Uplands property bulldozed for BMX jump track

34-year-old financial advisor fulfills childhood dream

School fence damaged by soaring sailboat

One boat owner advised, Transport Canada responsible for second boat

Backyard of $2.2M Uplands property bulldozed for BMX jump track

34-year-old financial advisor fulfills childhood dream

VIDEO: Fuel truck and train collide in B.C. causing massive fire

More emergency crews are still arriving on scene of a massive fire at the Port Coquitlam rail yard.

Back to work: U.S. government shutdown ends after Democrats relent

Short-term spending measure means both sides could see another shutdown stalemate in three weeks

Man lives despite malfunctioning defibrillator at B.C. arena

A middle-aged man went into cardiac arrest after at game at Pitt Meadows Arena last Wednesday.

Reynolds, Edward Milne capture titles at Esquimalt hoops tournament

Host Dockers take fourth in senior girls draw

Cause of Northern B.C. seaplane crash released

TSB releases report on seaplane crash during a water landing in 2016 near First Nations community

Vancouver police crack down on pop-up pot vendors

Officers raided merchants’ tables on Robson Square late Sunday

Bell Media, NFL take appeal over Super Bowl ad rules to top court

At issue is a ban on substituting American ads with Canadian ones during the game’s broadcast

Crown seeks 4.5 years jail for B.C. woman convicted of counselling tax evasion

Debbie Anderson the latest from group to face jail for teaching debunked ‘natural person’ theory

Most Read