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Cassiopeia and Perseus on September evenings

Tonight for September 16, 2016

Every September, if you’re in the northern hemisphere, try looking northeast at mid to late evening for two prominent constellations, Cassiopeia and Perseus.

The easier to see will be Cassiopeia, which has a distinctive M or W shape, depending on what time of night you see it. This constellation represents a queen in ancient mythology. Cassiopeia is easy to identify and so it is one of the most famous constellations in the sky. You’ll see it in the northeast by mid-evening tonight, and earlier in the evening in the months to come.

Perseus, the Hero, follows Cassiopeia across the night sky. In other words, as night passes, you’ll see them both ascending in the northeast – followed by arcing high in the north, and then descending in the northwest – with Perseus following Cassiopeia all the while.

Perseus is fainter than Cassiopeia and its stars are not so easy to identify. But if you have a dark sky, you’ll spot its graceful shape.

Both Perseus and Cassiopeia are considered to be circumpolar from northerly latitudes. In other words, as seen from northern parts of the U.S. and Canada, they never set below the horizon, but instead circle endlessly around Polaris, the North Star.

Look for Cassiopeia and Perseus in the northeastern evening sky for the next few months.