NASA/courtesy of
NASA/courtesy of

What's Up in Space

Download this months Star Chart.

This weekend’s night sky (27 - 28 September 2014)

Whilst Saturn continues its slow slide towards the western horizon, Mars, with its much closer orbit, continues to move eastwards against the background stars, passing to the right of Antares over the next few days. The name Antares means ‘rival to Mars’ because of its orangey-red colour and this close encounter will be a great opportunity to compare the two.

Mercury is still low on the western horizon after sunset and, between now and the end of the month, the growing crescent Moon will move through this planetary line up as we head towards first quarter on the 2nd of October.

The Pointers and Crux, the Southern Cross, are low in south west and the Diamond and False Crosses can be seen along our southern horizon. Canopus will be seen low in the south during the evening, with Vega directly opposite just above the northern horizon.

Along with the nearby bright stars of Deneb, in Cygnus the swan, and Altair, in Aquila the eagle, Vega forms part of the “winter triangle” as seen here in the southern hemisphere. Between Vega and Altair is Albireo, or the beak star, marking the head of the swan. This is a double star and a lovely sight in a small telescope because of the easily-seen contrast in colour between blue and gold components.

A little further to the east is Pegasus, the winged horse, easy to spot by the “Great Square” of four stars that makes up his body.

The Milk Way runs overhead after sunset but will sink towards the western horizon during the evening it. Scorpius/te Matau a Māui will set around midnight as our summer constellations of Orion, Taurus and Canis Major rise in the east. 

Contact details

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Carter Observatory, PO Box 893, Wellington 6140

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