September 2022 Stargazing Guide

Posted on Thursday, September 1st, 2022

Video opens with warning: Please be aware this video contains a brief strobbing light ~ 90 seconds in. Fades to black. 

Video fades in with night sky imagery, and Orbax appears. 

[Orbax]: Greetings junior scientists, scientists and citizens of the great big weird wild and wonderful world in which we live. As always I'm your humble science communicator the great Orbax, coming you from the Department of Physics at the University of Guelph and I'd like to welcome you to our September 2022 Star Gazing Guide.

Orbax spins and disappears. Video fades to black and then fades back in on an autumn scene of a river with trees on either side. Orbax reappears inthe foreground.

[Orbax]: This month marks the autumnal equinox, the day that we recognize as the start of that time of the year when the temperature dips, the leaves start to turn and winter creeps ever closer.

Background changes to a still image of a wheat field at sunset.

[Orbax]:  Astronomically it also means the sun starts setting a little earlier and rising a little bit later every day giving us that much more time to stargaze.

Background fades to a night sky in with trees overhead.

[Orbax]: This month we spot some easy to find planets, locate the northern cross and lay our eyes upon the last full moon of summer. All this, if we just take some time to look up. 

Background images cycle through still images of planets, norther cross and a full moon as Orbax lists them. Orbax points and looks up and shrinks as background fades to black. Orbax reappears on a starry background.

[Orbax]: For the last few months we've been tracking the summer triangle as it climbs in the sky.

Triangle, constellations and stars are highlighted in the background as Orbax speaks about each one. 

[Orbax]: One of the vertices of the summer triangle is a star called Deneb, the brightest star in a constellation called Cygnus, the Swan. Within Cygnus is an easy spot asterism within our September sky called the Northern Cross. Made up of five stars within the Swan, the Northern Cross lies high in the Northern sky after sunset. See if you can find it junior scientists!

Background shifts to a bright swirling starry sky.

[Orbax]: One of the things that I love about September skies is the planets. As the air gets crisper our gas giants Jupiter and Saturn are in clear view in the evening skies just after sunset.

Jupiter and Saturn appear, one either side as Orbax mentions them.

[Orbax]: You might ask yourself how do I know what I'm looking at is a planet rather than a star?

A planet and star appear where Jupiter and Saturn were.

[Orbax]: Stars tend to flicker whereas planets don't. And if it has a bunch of red lights and it's blinking you're actually looking at a plane.

Video switches to a video of a plane landing. Background changes to a starry diagram indicating Jupiter and Saturn, Orbax is in the foreground.

[Orbax]: Look towards the East and the Southeast just after sunset throughout September to see Jupiter and Saturn.

Background switches back to bright swirly night sky. 

[Orbax]: AND on September 26th pay special attention because Jupiter will be in opposition just like Saturn was last month.

Background changes to animated diagram of the Earth and Jupiter as Orbax explains. 

[Orbax]: That means the earth will lie directly between Jupiter and the sun making Jupiter the biggest and the brightest that it will appear in the sky all year.

Background changes to an image of a full moon. 

[Orbax]: The full moon this month is on September 10th and because it's the closest full moon to the autumnal equinox it's referred to as the Harvest Moon.

The background shifts to a series of videos and images to illustrated the names of the moon; a tractor harvesting a crop, corn, barley, moose. Then transitions to a night sky diagram of the moon and planets Jupiter, Saturn and Venus indicated.

[Orbax]: The September full moon is often known as the Corn Moon or the Barley Moon and shines in or near the constellations of Aquarius and Pisces. The Mi'kmaw refer to this moon as the Mating Moon as do the Cree Nation of central Canada who refer to it as Nimitahamowipisim, the Rutting Moon the time when the bull moose scrapes the velvet from its antlers as a sign that mating season commences.

Background shifts to a forest in red, orange, yellow fall colours. 

[Orbax]: As I mentioned earlier, September 23rd is the first day of autumn and here's why.

Background shifts to a digram of the Earth's orbit, with each solstice indicated. Andf then the Equinoxes are indicated.

[Orbax]: We all remember that the earth is tilted at 23.5 degrees with respect to the line that's perpendicular to the plane of our orbit around the sun. One earth year corresponds to one full solar orbit. In December we talked about the winter solstice, in June we talked about the summer solstice. The solstice occurs on the day when we're either closest to or furthest away from the sun due to that tilt of the Earth. These are the days where we experience the most daylight hours or the least daylight hours, the two extremes. Exactly halfway between the solstices we have a day where we experience equal amounts of daylight and nighttime hours. This is the Equinox. The autumnal equinox occurs on September 23rd this year and denotes the first day of autumn. After this point our daylight hours will decrease until we reach the winter solstice in January. This phenomenon occurs again in six months when we've completed 180 degrees in our rotation around the sun in the springtime for the vernal equinox.

Background shifts to a schematic of the experiment described.

[Orbax]: There's actually a pretty cool experiment you could try out at noon on the day of the equinox. If you take a vertical stick or a gnomon and measure the length of its shadow the angle that it subtends will actually match your latitude. Look up the experiments of Eratosthenes, a Greek polymath who lived around 200 BC.

Background changes to an image of the earth from space, then to Jupiter and on to Saturn. Background transitions to an image of the galaxy.

[Orbax]: Isn't it incredible junior scientists?! You're on a planet that traces a magical path throughout the cosmos along with other planets that orbit our Sun that join even more planets around 100 billion other stars to make up a galaxy that is itself only one of many. All this beauty and wonder is yours to discover junior scientists and we're just getting started by taking some time... to look up.

Orbax points and looks up as he shrinks and fades to the bottom right of the screen.

[Orbax]:  See you next month and don't forget to have a science-tastic day!

Image of Dr. Perrett and a small Royal City Science logo appear. 

- [Orbax]: Special thanks to Royal City Science's own planetary geochemist Dr Glynis Perrett for her help preparing our Star Gazing Guide and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Background transitions to a night sky texture with the to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada logo. Video and music credits.

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