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Sky Report - September 2012

Spring Evening Groups Disappear, Summer Groups Strong while Fall Groups Creep into View.

Sights Seen All Through September: As darkness falls, take your last look at the spring's brightest star, golden Arcturus, sparkling low in the Northwest. The Big Dipper which peaked on spring evenings is now hovering low in the Northwest. The end stars of the Dipper's scoop point up and right to the North Star, a modest star about halfway up in the North. Mars remains as the only easily seen early evening planet, shining in Libra, low in the southwestern dusk. The Summer Triangle features Vega, its brightest star high in the West. Low in the Southeast is Fomalhaut, the bright star that marks the mouth of the Southern Fish. Low in the Northeast is the golden star Capella, the brightest of the fall evening stars. Late on September evenings, the very bright planet Jupiter can be seen low in the East. September dawns are dominated by the brilliant planet Venus, shining in the Southeast.

Early September Sights - There is much evening moonlight in early September, as the moon was full on August 31st. On September 8th, the half full moon rises just before midnight, accompanied by the bright planet Jupiter just North of the moon.

Mid September Sights - The moon is a crescent in the dawn sky, appearing near the brilliant planet Venus on Wednesday, September 12th. A razor thin moon is last seen at dawn on September 14th, then appearing close to Regulus, Leo's heart star. Late in the evening of September 16th, the moon swings from the morning to the evening side of the sun. On September 18th, the crescent moon reappears low in the 9 p.m. southwestern dusk. To the right of the moon on that evening is the planet Saturn. On September 19th, the crescent moon will appear just to the left of the planet Mars.

Late September Sights - Fall officially begins on September 22nd, when the sun's direct rays cross the equator, moving South. On this day, the sun rises due East and sets due West. Daylight is about 8 minutes longer than night. On September 25th, there will be 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night. At this time of the year, the length of daylight shrinks by about 2 minutes a day. On September 22nd, the evening moon appears half full, shining above the star group Sagittarius. On September 30th, the moon will be full; this is the Harvest Moon, offering extra evening moonlight for the next four evenings. In colonial times, farmers used the light of the Harvest Moon to gather their crops in the early evening.

Science Sundays will resume on September 9th with the program, "Mammals of North America" in Compton 224 at 4 p.m. This program will be repeated each September Sunday at 4 p.m. The program has two parts: a half hour audio visual presentation, followed by a tour of the Science Discovery Center. The Compton Science Center is a large building near the Performing Arts Center. There is plentiful free parking nearby.

By Dr. Bob Doyle

To contact Dr. Doyle, his mailing address is Planetarium, Frostburg State University, Frostburg, MD 21532 or by email at rdoyle@frostburg.edu.









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