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Sky Report - September through December 2007


September 2007 - In September, we lose more than an hour of daily sunlight as sunset times through the month drop from about 7:45 p.m. to 7 p.m. and sunrises advance from 6:45 a.m. to 7:10 a.m. So by 8:30 p.m., the brighter evening stars come into view. The brightest point of light in the evening sky is the planet Jupiter, seen low in the Southwest in the first hour of darkness. Low in the Northwest in the early evening is the bright golden star Arcturus, sparkling furiously as it nears the horizon. As Arcturus drops, an equally bright golden star (called Capella) appears low in the Northeast. High in the western evening sky is the brightest evening star called Vega. Vega is the brightest star in the Summer Triangle. On dark, moonless evenings, the Milky Way can be seen as a ghostly glow running from the Northeastern horizon, through the top of the sky and down towards the Southwestern horizon. On September 26th, the full moon in the evening sky is called "The Harvest Moon". "The Harvest Moon" offers extra evening moonlight in the following evenings; before farmers had tractors and harvesters, they used this evening moonlight to work in the field after sunset. In the last hour of dawn the brilliant planet Venus shines low in the eastern sky. Also at dawn, the bright planet Mars shines high in the South.

October 2007 - In October, we lose another hour of daily sunlight; sunset times through the month fall back from about 6:55 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. and sunrises advance from 7:15 a.m. to 7:40 a.m. (All times given are daylight savings time.) So the brighter evening stars appear about 7:30 p.m. The very bright planet Jupiter appears low in the West in the first hour of darkness. The brightest evening star is Vega, shining high in the West with a white-blue gleam. Nearly as bright as Vega nn the evening sky is the golden star Capella, shining in the Northeast. Both of these bright stars are stellar neighbors at distances of 25 light years for Vega and 42 light years for Capella. If you look to the right of Capella on a moonless night, you'll notice a tiny grouping of stars called the Seven Sisters or Pleiades. Also on moonless nights, you can see the Milky Way as a gauzy glow that runs from Capella to high in the North and down into the Southwest. The evening full moon on October 25th is called "The Hunters' Moon", just as September's Harvest Moon supplies extra evening moonlight for the following nights. In the predawn sky, the brilliant planet Venus shines in the East. High in the southwestern dawn is the bright orange planet Mars.

November 2007 - In November, daily sunlight hours drop from 10.5 hours to 9.6 hours. Through the month, sunset times drop from 5:10 p.m. to 4:50 p.m.
and sunrise times advance from 6:45 a.m. to 7:15 a.m. (All times given are standard time; we shift from daylight time to standard time on November 4th.)
The brighter evening stars come into view around 6 p.m. Standard Time. The two brightest evening stars are golden Capella, high in the Northeast and white-blue Vega, low in the Northwest. In the late evening sky, you can see Orion, the year's brightest star group with his belt of three stars in a row. Orion has a very bright white-blue star Rigel, farthest to the right. To the left of Orion is the bright orange planet Mars. Mars outshines all the evening stars. There is a full moon on November 23rd, the day after Thanksgiving. Near the start of winter, the full moons have a high path across the night sky. The predawn sky features the brilliant planet Venus in the Southeast and the bright planet Saturn above and to the right of Venus.

December 2007 - In December, daily sunlight hours scarcely change, staying between 9.6 and 9.4 hours. December begins with 4:50 p.m. sunsets and ends with 5 p.m. sunsets. As for sunrises, December begins with 7:15 a.m. sunrises, finishing with 7:35 a.m. sunrises. The brighter evening stars first appear around 6 p.m. The brightest early evening stars are white-blue Vega, low in the Northwest, golden Capella high in the Northeast and white-blue Rigel, low in the Southeast. The brightest point of light in the evening sky is the orange planet Mars, shining low in the East. Late in the evening, Sirius, the night's brightest star appears low in the Southeast. Sirius can be found by extending Orion's belt to the left and down. In the 6:30 a.m. sky, the planet Venus is brilliant in the Southeast with the planet Saturn above and to the right.

By Dr. Bob Doyle


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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