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Nighttrek Report: What to See in the September Sky

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By Neill Simmons

The highlight of September is the return of the “King of Planets,”  Jupiter, to the night sky.

Look east after 9 pm and notice how bright Jupiter is. This is due to the fact that Earth is at its closest point to Jupiter.  If you have binoculars look every night and notice how Jupiter’s four largest moons move position from one night to the next.  These four moons were first seen by Galileo in 1610.  Also remember that one year on Jupiter is equal to 12 years on Earth.

FUN FACT: Jupiter has 79 moons but only 53 have names!

This month Saturn is easy to spot with the naked eye.  Look to the right of Jupiter in the southeast night sky.  

Mars is finally back in the eastern evening sky after 11 pm.  Earth is getting closer to Mars each night.  By December the planets will be at their closest and Mars will appear super bright.   

Saturday, September 10, would be a great night to have a “Harvest Moon” party.  Farmers were in a rush to harvest the summer crops before the hard rains of winter.  The Full Moon allows evening work after dark.

Dawn Patrol: At 5 am. The morning sky is still dark and the conste-llation Orion rises in the east.  It is a great sight.  On Sept 23 look for the ”Old Moon” before it disappears in the Sun’s glare.  In addition, Venus will be bright for two weeks before it gets lost in the glare of the Sun.

SPACE NEWS:  Russia is planning on building its own space station and hopes to put it up in orbit by 2030.

Each night look straight up to spot the giant “Summer Triangle.”  Notice inside the triangle is the famous “Northern Cross.”  

Look in the north to see the giant “W” which is the conste-llation of the vain queen, Cassiopeia, who was the mother of Andromeda in Greek mythology.  

In the south, the famous teacup pattern, Sagittarius, points to the center of our galaxy the “Milky Way.” The Milky Way crosses the zenith as summer turns to fall. Make the effort to get away from the city lights to enjoy this beautiful sight. 

Moor-park College will be hosting a “star party” on Saturday, September 17 at 8 pm.  It will be next to the  Moorpark College Observatory on the edge of the campus.  The Ventura County Astronomical Society will be sponsor of this free event.  For more information go to VCAS.org.

Vandenberg Space Force Base will have three rocket launches in September. 

The first is on Sunday September 11 at 3 pm.  A Delta IV Heavy rocket goes up on Friday, the 23, at 5 pm. 

The third launch is a Falcon 9 which will go up on the 28th at 5 pm.  Look northwest from the L.A. area.   

When not stargazing, Neill Simmons is a Wealth Manager with LPL Financial in Woodland Hills.  

If you have any astronomy or financial questions, he may be reach at (818) 936-2626 or neill.simmons@lpl.com

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