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Weather Talk: The Milky Way is in prime view during September

In September, the sky gets dark significantly earlier, allowing us to observe the night sky without having to stay up too late. The Milky Way is in prime viewing position this time of the year. Around 9 p.m., look for three bright stars almost overhead: Altair, Deneb, and Vega.

Get away from city lights and you will see the brightest portion of the Milky Way Galaxy in this region. This brightest part is the center of the galaxy where there is a concentration of stars. On a clear night, there appear to be countless stars visible.

The Milky Way is about 100,000 light years across and our solar system is about 25,000 light years from the center. Look at it with binoculars or a telescope, and it will take your breath away. It is estimated that there are more than 100 billion stars in the Milky Way.

John Wheeler

John was born in Baton Rouge, LA, and grew up near Birmingham, Alabama. As a teenager, his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and later to a small town in northeast Iowa. John traces his early interest in weather to the difference in climate between Alabama and Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in meteorology. Like any meteorologist, John is intrigued by extremes of weather, especially arctic air outbreaks and winter storms.  John has been known to say he prefers his summers to be hot but in winter, he prefers the cold.  When away from work, John enjoys long-distance running and reading.  John has been a meteorologist at WDAY since May of 1985.

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