Sky at a Glance September 22 – 29

Location of the elusive constellation Lacerta the Lizard.

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, September 22 – 29 ~by Curt Nason

Salamanders aren’t the most noticeable of critters; you usually have to make an effort to find one. This is a good time to locate the obscure constellation of Lacerta the Lizard, but it will take some effort and a dark sky.

Camouflaged partly by the Milky Way, Lacerta is surrounded by Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Pegasus and Cygnus. A good pointer to it is the base of the Summer Triangle. Running a line from bright Vega to Deneb at the tail of Cygnus and extending it about the same distance puts you near the zigzag shape of the lizard. It is one of those dim constellations created in the late 17th century by Johannes Hevelius to fill in an “empty” section of the sky. At first he named it Stellio; a stellion is a newt with star-like spots found near the Mediterranean Sea. If you manage to catch Lacerta, give yourself a pat on the back and let it go.

This Week in the Solar System

Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 7:06 am and sunset will occur at 7:16 pm, giving 12 hours, 10 minutes of daylight (7:11 am and 7:21 pm in Saint John). The Sun crosses the equator heading south for winter at 10:54 pm that evening, marking the beginning of autumn. Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 7:15 am and set at 7:03 pm, giving 11 hours, 48 minutes of daylight (7:19 am and 7:08 pm in Saint John).

The Moon is full on Monday, the traditional Harvest Moon and the Mi’kmaq Moose Calling Moon. Venus remains very bright but sets before 8 pm midweek. Jupiter’s Red Spot is facing our way shortly after 8 pm on Thursday, an hour before the planet sets. Saturn continues to give awesome views in the early evening and sets before midnight. Mars is at its highest for best viewing around 9:30 pm.

RASC NB, the provincial astronomy club, meets at the UNB Fredericton Forestry / Earth Sciences building this Saturday at 1 pm. All are welcome. On Wednesday, the UNB Fredericton Astronomy Club will be holding a public observing session at Queen’s Square Park from 8:30 to 10 pm.

Questions? Contact Curt Nason.

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