In the evening sky, planets Jupiter and Saturn shine side by side in the south. Jupiter, at magnitude -2.51, is visible at dusk and is joined, as darkness falls, by Saturn (.34 m). Reminder: the smaller the number the brighter the celestial body. Enjoy the juxtaposed planets, the largest in our solar system, until they set in the southwest after midnight.
When I am indoors at 10 o’clock, I look from a south-facing window for Jupiter, the bright star-like beacon, with dimmer Saturn to its left above the skyline. Then, at midnight, I find the twosome approaching the southwest skyline.
Outdoors, with a clear view to the east-northeast around 9:15pm tonight, find Mars, the Red Planet, climbing above the horizon. The luminous planet brightens from -1.97 magnitude today to -2.22 m on the 17th. Mars continues to brighten into mid-October and rises a few minutes earlier every night.
In general, stargazing begins about an hour after sunset. Dimmer celestial objects are visible about half an hour later, when darkness is as complete as it can be, known as “astronomical twilight.” Sunset occurs around 7:15pm this week and 7 o’clock next week. Moonrise tonight is close to10 pm. The waning moon rises half an hour to an hour later every succeeding night.
Turning to the morning sky, the dazzling light of planet Venus, -4.16 m, finds its way through the cityscape into windows with a view to the east-northeast from about 3am until 5:30am. Outdoors, the goddess planet is the highlight of these late summer mornings. The third brightest celestial object in Earth’s skies next to the Sun and moon, Venus can be seen until about half an hour before sunrise once you know where to look. Sunrise is around 6:30am.
An hour before sunrise, marvel at winter’s prominent stars and constellations between Venus in the east and Mars in the southwest.