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Star Gazing - September 18 - 22, 2017

Monday, September 18
• Less than 1° separates brilliant Venus and tiny Regulus as dawn brightens Tuesday and Wednesday mornings
September 19th and 20th. Look low in the east, and bring those binoculars.

Tuesday, September 19
• The Great Square of Pegasus is high in the east after dark, balancing on one corner.

From the Great Square's left corner extends a big line of three 2nd-magnitude stars, running to the lower left, that
mark the head, backbone and bright leg of the constellation Andromeda. (The line of three includes the Square's left
corner, her head.) Upper left from the foot of this line, you'll find W-shaped Cassiopeia tilting up.

Wednesday, September 20
• New Moon (exact at 1:30 a.m. on the 20th EDT).

• With the Moon out of the sky, try for the big, elongated, 10.4-magnitude galaxy NGC 7331 above the top corner of
the Great Square of Pegasus — using Matt Wedel's Binocular Highlight chart and article in the September Sky &
Telescope, page 43. Really, binoculars? For a galaxy as faint as 10.4? Says Matt, "I've needed at least 10×50s to pull it
out, and 15×70s are better still. Some claim to have spotted it with only 7×50s in only moderately dark skies."

For users of big telescopes under darker skies, NGC 7331 is also known as the stepping stone to Stephan's Quintet, ½°
to the south-southwest.

Thursday, September 21
• As summer ends, the Sagittarius Teapot moves west of due south during evening and tips increasingly far over, as if
pouring out the last of summer.

• More deep-sky hunting! M17 in northernmost Sagittarius, the Omega or Swan Nebula (it looks like either shape), is
one of the brightest and richest nebulae for amateur telescopes. See Howard Banich's guide to its details, with photos
and sketches and charts, on page 57 of the September Sky & Telescope. How much of this can you detect here for

Friday, September 22
• Spot the thin waxing crescent Moon low in the west-southwest during twilight. Can you see Jupiter about 7° to its
lower right? (That 7° is their separation for skywatchers in North America.)

• Equinox: Autumn begins in the Northern Hemisphere, and spring in the Southern Hemisphere, at 4:02 p.m. EDT.
This is when the Sun crosses the equator (both Earth's equator and the celestial equator) heading south for the season.

• Coincidentally, every year around when summer turns to fall, Deneb takes over from brighter Vega as the zenith star
right around when twilight fades into night (for skywatchers at mid-northern latitudes).

current night sky over Nashville, TN
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Starry, Starry Night . . .
"I know nothing of any certainty, but the sight of   
the stars makes me dream." -Vincent Van Gogh