The moon’s back in the west tonight but very low especially from the northern U.S., where it sets about a half hour after sunset. Look for a wiry crescent around and shortly after sunset. Being so close to the horizon in twilight makes for good picture opportunities.
Tonight and the next couple nights are ideal for photographing the shapely moon in a pretty scene with trees or a favorite iconic building. Even a cellphone camera’s up to the job. There’s plenty of light to go around in the hour after sunset – give it a try.
As a kid, I used to play baseball with my buddies at a nearby park every summer. Listened to it on the radio, too. Now I mostly photograph our local teams for the newspaper and catch the highlights on TV. Still, whenever August comes around and the Great Square of Pegasus climbs the eastern sky at nightfall, I can’t help but think of that dusty baseball diamond of my youth. Like the real thing, the Square is plenty big. Each side is about 15 degrees across or about a fist and a half held at arm’s length. It’s hard to miss.
I’ve marked some of the key positions on the diamond but it does have its deficiencies – no pitcher or any obvious outfielders. That’s OK. In lean times we’ve learned to make do.
At least each player has a name. While constellations have Greek and Roman names, most individual star names come from the Arabic peoples. Scheat (the shin), Matar (lucky rain), Markab (the horse’s shoulder), Algenib (the side) and Alpheratz (navel of the mare) are our players’ names.
Alpheratz, which officially belongs to the neighboring constellation Andromeda, is shared by Pegasus to complete the diamond. That’s appropriate given that Perseus the Hero flew to Andromeda’s rescue on the great steed.
Have a look the next clear night to see how the game’s going. Now matter how you picture the Great Square, it’s as much a sign of the coming fall as the leaves changing on the trees.