The Sky: Stargazers look for morning winter constellations
Florida Travel guide to the night sky for September 2012
by Linda Jacobson
I woke up around 5:43am on September 19, and of course I went outside on the Lanai to see if the sky was clear.. it’s the first thing I wonder when I get up so early. In addition to the early morning traffic sounds of people going to work and to school, I was greeted by a sparkling sky full of bright Winter Constellations: Orion, was overhead, easy to discern by it’s three belt stars all in a row – see graphic. I was left wondering if any of the people passing by in their vehicles, had also noticed how beautiful the sky looked…
Looking at the early morning graphic of around 3am now, you can take Orion’s belt stars and drawing a line toward the East, and come to a very bright star called Sirius, in the Constellation of Canis Major. Venus is rising around 3am now about 2hrs before dawn. Look for it shining brightly in the East.
Above Orion is the bright planet Jupiter up in the horns of Taurus the Bull. The face of Taurus makes a V shape in the sky and above the tips of the horns is bright Capella. Early mornings this time of year are full of bright stars and Constellations.
September 20th Sunset
Sunset on September 20 however finds us still in the heat of Summer, or what’s left of it with the Planet Mars setting in the West. Mars can be found to the lower left of the Moon this evening.
September 22 finds Jupiter rising around 11pm in the East and if you have a small telescope you can watch one of its Moon, Io, slowly cross its face from 10:53pm to 1:01am. It will look like a small black spot as it travels across the face of Jupiter. Autumn officially begins on this date in the Northern Hemisphere with the Sun crossing the equator, heading South for the year at 10:49am. I don’t know about you, but I am ready for the cooler weather and clear skies!
For a closer look at the stars, download this month’s star chart - the black and white star chart is a great guide to finding constellations.
What is your favorite constellation at this time of the year?
Linda Jacobson is a Blogger in Lehigh Acres, Florida who divides her time between the stars and nature trails. Her Backyard Universe blog is located at AstronomyGal.