Skywatch: Neptune nears and a famous constellation returns

Courtesy: NASA
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The gas giant Neptune is billions of miles from Earth but on Monday it'll be a shade closer than normal. That's when Neptune will make its closest pass to our planet for the year, it'll clock in at just under 2.7 billion miles away.

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The next day the planet will reach opposition or appear opposite the sun in our sky. Neptune will shine it’s brightest on the 5th but it’s still very faint. In fact, if you want to find it you’ll need an optical aid and some detailed star charts. Neptune will be in Aquarius in the eastern sky after sunset.

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September is here and with it a familiar sight will return as we welcome Orion the hunter to the morning sky this month. Easily found by locating the three stars of Orion’s belt this constellation is known to dominate the winter sky. It’ll be rising earlier and earlier in the coming months but if you can’t wait for it you now know where to find it.

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On both Tuesday and Wednesday nights the moon will be big and bright! The Full Moon technically arrives at 3:03 A.M. Wednesday morning. This month’s moon is known as the Full Harvest Moon because it signaled when corn was typically harvested. The bright moon allowed farmers to work late into the night reaping the rewards from a summer of hard work. It’s also known as the full corn moon. Happy hunting!