GARRETT COUNTY SKIES
By Dr. Bob Doyle, Frostburg State Planetarium

 

Roaming moon helps to identify planets,  Fall officially starts on 9/22,  Good telescope viewing in late Sept.

September opens with an Oakland sunrise of 6:46 a.m., sunset at 7:49 p.m. giving us 13 hrs. & 3 min. of sunlight. The sun is in Leo through September 15, then moving into Virgo for rest of the month. The month ends with a 7:13 a.m. sunrise, a 7:02 p.m. sunset, supplying us with 11 hrs. & 49 min. of sunshine.

September has an early full moon (on Sept. 2), rising about sunset and hanging in the sky all night long.

In the last hour of September 5, the moon is close to the yellow planet Mars. An hour after midnight on September 10, the half full moon appears above the bright star Aldebaran. At 4 a.m. on September 13, the crescent moon appears above the brilliant planet Venus in the East. In the 6 a.m. eastern dawn on September 15, the crescent moon appears close to Regulus, the heart star of Leo. On September 17, the moon swings from the morning to the evening side of the sun – New Moon, the start of a lunar cycle.

September 22 is the official start of fall, when the sun’s vertical rays cross the equator, moving South. Over most of the world, the sun rises due East and sets due West. At the start of fall, days and nights are not equal, due to the upward bending of the sun’s image by our atmosphere. This causes the sun to rise several minutes early and to delay the sun’s setting by several minutes. The actual date when Oakland’s day and night are 12 hours each is September 26.

On September 23, the evening moon appears half full in the southwest, appearing as a tilted ‘D’. Along the moon’s lighted left edge, the sun there has just risen, lighting the raised rims of the craters. So the evenings of September 21-25 are fine for observing lunar surface features with a telescope. On the evening of September 24, the moon appears underneath the planet Jupiter. The next evening will have the moon below and to the left of the planet Saturn. So if you have a telescope out to see the moon, you can spot the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn as well. The moons appear as tiny points of light while 40 power shows Saturn’s rings.