September 14, 2021: This evening the bright gibbous moon is in a section of the constellation Sagittarius that is frequently known as the Teapot. Additionally, Evening Star Venus, bright Jupiter, and Saturn are in the evening sky.
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by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:30 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:01 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
This evening, the bright gibbous moon is in the south after sunset in part of the constellation Sagittarius known as the Teapot. Such familiar shapes are known as asterisms. Some of the familiar are: Big Dipper Little Dipper, Summer Triangle, and Winter Triangle.
The moon is below the star Kaus Borealis. With the bright moonlight, use a binocular to locate the other stars in the pattern. Sometimes, it is helpful to use the moon as a guide to the other stars, then shift the binocular slightly so that it is outside the field of view. This reduces the glare and the stars are easier to see.
In mythology, Sagittarius was a combination of a human torso and a horse’s body. The human has a bow that is ready to launch an arrow.
Today, some of the star names remind us of the mythology, such as Kaus Borealis, “the northern part of the bow;” Kaus Media, “the middle part of the bow;”; and Kaus Australis, “the southern part of the bow. Alnasal is “the point of the arrow.”
Other stars that are named on the accompanying diagram are Ascella, “the armpit,” and Nunki, “the yoke of the sea.”
Three easily-spotted planets are in the evening sky after sunset. Brilliant Venus is low in the west-southwest. It gleams through the colors of evening twilight. It is easy to locate if you have a clear horizon in its direction. The planet sets 92 minutes after sunset this evening from the mid-northern latitudes.
Bright Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeastern sky while Venus is visible from its location. The giant planet pair rise higher in the southeastern sky as the evening progresses.
After Venus sets, Jupiter is the brightest “star” in the sky, followed by Arcturus, Vega, and Saturn. By three hours after sunset, both planets are high in the southern sky.
Detailed Daily Note:Neptune is at opposition at 4:21 a.m. CDT. Twenty-five minutes after sunset, Mercury is nearly 4° above the west-southwest horizon. Twenty minutes later, Venus is over 8° up in the west-southwest, 10.6° to the lower right of Zubenelgenubi and 2.9° to the lower right of λ Vir. With the moon’s brightness, use a binocular to see the planet with the dimmer stars. The moon (8.0d, 63%), over 21° up in the south, is inside the lid of the Teapot of Sagittarius, 1.8° to the lower left of Kaus Borealis, the star at the top of the lid. Farther eastward, Saturn is over 22° above the south-southeast horizon. Jupiter, nearly 18° up in the southeast, is 16.6° to the lower left of Saturn. Two hours after sunset, Jupiter and Saturn have nearly the same altitude. Both planets are above the south-southeast horizon. Bright Jupiter is 5.0° to the upper right of ι Aqr, 2.1° to the lower right of μ Aqr, and 1.4° above Deneb Algedi. Saturn is 1.1° to the lower right of υ Cap.
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