The night sky in September

A look at what one might expect in the skies at night

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.

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Power lines cut as thieves strike Vancouver Island veterinary hospital

‘Thankfully there weren’t any animals or staff in the clinic when this happened’

Sooke Food Bank sends out call for help

Need continues as holiday season food drives are over

Saanich Police ask for help locating missing high-risk youth

Robyn Coker-Steel has not been in contact with anyone from her home since Dec. 27

Some 500 people attend Sidney vigil for victims of Iran airplane crash

All 176 passengers, including 57 Canadians, died when Flight PS752 crashed

VIDEO: Soldiers trade rifles for snow shovels to help dig out St. John’s

A state of emergency is set to extend into a fifth day

ICBC to bring in ranking system for collision, glass repair shops

Change comes after the much-maligned auto insurer has faced criticism for sky-high premiums

Surrey’s ‘Pink Palace’ being used for Stephen King horror shoot

New web series based on King’s The Stand novel

‘It was just so fast’: B.C. teen recalls 150-metre fall down Oregon mountain

Surrey’s Gurbaz Singh broke his leg on Mount Hood on Dec. 30

Vancouver Island Pride weekend returns to Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Building on the success of last year’s family-friendly pride festival on Vancouver… Continue reading

Scarlett Point lighthouse keeper wins a million bucks playing the lottery

“I usually just get a quick pick, so I didn’t expect to win a big prize”

B.C. woman crowned the fastest female marathon runner in Canadian history

Malindi Elmore ran an incredible 2:24:50 at the Houston Marathon

Alberta bulldog breeder ordered to refund B.C. buyer over puppy’s behaviour

Tribunal ruled a verbal agreement to send a new dog superseded the written contract

Man dies in backcountry near Nelson’s Whitewater Ski Resort

The victim was found unresponsive in a tree well Friday

Most Read