Stargazing: Cassiopeia and the autumn sky
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The key to navigating the autumn sky is identifying the constellation of Cassiopeia. Her pattern of five bright stars now outlines the shape of an M. Cassiopeia can be located high in the northern sky directly opposite the North Star from the Big Dipper.
During the fall, the dipper rides low above the northern horizon after sunset. The queen of the night sky will rotate in a counterclockwise direction during the upcoming weeks, placing her high overhead by November.
Seated to her left is Cepheus, the King of the night sky. Cepheus now looks like an upside-down small house with a small square connected to a triangle.
Cassiopeia also points to a pattern of four stars that form a large square in the east. This "Great Square" is Pegasus, the Winged Horse, although it looks more like a baseball diamond as it rises above the eastern horizon early in the fall. The stars that make up the square are comparable in brightness to Polaris, the North Star.
First Published October 8, 2012 12:00 am