September brings sunny warm days and crisp clear nights and the latter is perfect for checking out the night sky.

Mars and Saturn are still close together in the early evening sky, near the bright red star Antares. They will be visible until the autumnal equinox. Antares can be confused with Mars and its name actually means “rival of Mars.”

As the moon rises in the east you can catch some planets in the west

As the moon rises in the east you can catch some planets in the south-southwest.

Jupiter has now disappeared from the evening sky. It was visible in August, but as September arrived it sunk below the horizon. What’s cool about the planets is they can be the dominant object in the evening sky one month and then reappear in the morning sky a month or two later. This is the case with Jupiter and I will have more on this next month.

Venus is very low in the evening sky, but getting a bit higher by the day. You will need to have a clear view of the western horizon to see it, but by the end of the month it will be high enough that it will be above some of the ground clutter.

Venus is higher and higher in the evening sky

Venus is higher and higher in the evening sky.

The moon is a dominant player in the mid-month sky. On the Sept. 16 the full “harvest” moon will rise at  7 p.m. just as the sun is setting. If skies are clear this will be an opportunity to get some great photos of the moon over the Portland city skyline. The moon will rise almost due east and right now the weather looks perfect.

If you are not taking pictures, the moon is still worth viewing. A pair of binoculars will illuminate a lot about the surface of the moon and its craters. A good moon map will allow you to know what you are looking at and you can try to find some of the more prominent features of the moon. Most of us look at the moon briefly, but rarely study its intricacies.

Many of the Moon's most prominent features are visible to the naked eye, but use binoculars or a telescope for the best view.

Many of the Moon’s most prominent features are visible to the naked eye, but use binoculars or a telescope for the best view.

Finally, the International Space Station is always worth a look on any clear night. The flyovers change times dramatically so it might not be practical to get the kids up at 3 a.m. for a viewing, but some of the viewings before sunrise are not too early to take a trip outside.

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