S E P T E M B E R 2 0 0 2 S K Y W A T C H
by Maya del Mar
Except perhaps from an airplane, looking westwards, Venus is leaving the evening skyat least in the northern hemisphere. However, Venus should be a glorious sight in the southern hemisphere, for it is at its greatest brilliancy on September 26when, ironically, it is in crescent phase.
Observers in the south will also have an excellent view of Mercury, low in the sky, shortly after sunset. On September 8 and 9, the waxing crescent moon passes close to Mercury and Venus.
In the north, our planet show occurs in the early morning. Saturn rises before midnight for most of September, and it is visible for the rest of the night. Look for it near the constellation of Orion. Brilliant Jupiter rises three hours later, and by pre-dawn, our two gas giants rule the morning sky.
The early morning sky shows bright sky bodies rising. First is Saturn, followed by the Twins, Castor and Pollux, then Jupiter, and finally by sunrise Leo, with its bright star, Regulus, the Heart of the Lion.
The old crescent moon is close to Jupiter on the morning of September 4. Last quarter moon is close to Saturn on the morning of September 29.
This month we enjoy the Harvest Moon from September 19-23. Full Moon is exact on September 21 at 9:59 a.m. EDT. This autumn moon is called Harvest Moon because the geometry of the earth-moon system at this season allows a slower rising, with more lightjust in time to bring in the harvest. I can picture farmers reaping their fields during much of the nights now, perhaps going from one farm to another to utilize the extra light.
Harvest Moon this year is close to Equinox. At the same time there is a volatile Mars square Pluto, and a difficult Sun-Moon square of Saturn. This long and bright Harvest Moon season will be a dilly.