Ursa Major, better known as the Great Bear, is settling very low along the northern horizon during the evenings. The best known stars here are the Big Dipper, with the “bowl” of the Dipper part of the Bear’s body, and the “handle” his long, bushy tail. The Bear reaches his lowest point, due north, near midnight.

When Columbus landed in the Bahamas on this date in 1492, he used the North Star to determine his location. However, he mistakenly used the star Alderamin in Cepheus, and thought he landed near what is now Boston. Either tropical breezes, or an able assistant, helped him to correct his error.

The Milky Way becomes more prominent through the Fall, stretching from northeast to southwest across the top of the sky. It is our view of the Milky Way Galaxy from the inside, looking out. The Sun is embedded in a great disc of stars, and we are looking sideways through the thicker portion of the disc.