Take a late summer road trip along the Milky Way. Be sure to stop at Saturn!


What's Up for September? Set your sights beyond the solar system and take a late summertime road trip along the Milky Way!

Hello and welcome! I'm Jane Houston Jones from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

On September 15 the Cassini spacecraft ends its glorious Saturnian science tour by plunging into the atmosphere of Saturn, becoming forever a part of the ringed planet.

This month Saturn is the only prominent evening planet low in the southwest sky. Look for it near the constellation Sagittarius. Above and below Saturn--from a dark sky--you can't miss the summer Milky Way spanning the sky from northeast to southwest. Grab a pair of binoculars and scan the teapot-shaped Sagittarius, where stars and some brighter clumps appear as steam from the teapot. Those bright clumps are near the center of our galaxy, which is full of gas, dust and stars.

Directly overhead is the great Summer Triangle of stars. Vega, Altair and Deneb are in the pretty constellations Lyra, Aquila and Cygnus.

As you gaze toward the northeast you'll see Cassiopeia, the familiar W-shaped constellation...and Perseus. Through your binoculars, look for the Perseus Double Cluster. Both of the clusters are visible with the naked eye, are 7500 light years away, and contain more than 300 blue-white super-giant stars!

Every star and every object you can see with your unaided eye is part of the Milky Way. With one exception: the great Andromeda galaxy, which is faintly visible through binoculars on the opposite side of the night sky from Saturn and the teapot.

You can find out about NASA's astrophysics missions studying the universe, and all of NASA's missions at: www.nasa.gov

That's all for this month. I'm Jane Houston Jones.

View all Videos