THERE’S a lot more to the night sky than meets they eye, with livelihoods depending on clear nights in days gone by, when most farming work was done by hand.

Today’s agricultural vehicles, many fitted with spotlights, allow the farmer to work late into the night to get in the crops.

Those interested in the night sky, or yearn to know more about it are invited to go along to Earby Astronomical Society gatherings.

The new season of meetings of the Society will begin on Friday, September 27, when the speaker will be Martin Lunn and the title of the talk will be ‘The Autumn Sky’.

Traditionally September was the month when the crops were harvested; a time of year that was vital to local economies across the country. Harvesting the crops as quickly as possible was crucial in ensuring that people had enough food for winter.

This is why the full moon we see this month is probably the best known of all: the Harvest Moon.

At this time of year when the sun sets the moon rises which meant that when farmers were harvesting their crops they were not restricted to the normal hours of daylight.

In medieval times all the harvesting was done by hand so it took much longer than mechanised methods used today.

The moonlight - or reflected sunlight as is the correct term - allowed people from entire villages to work throughout the night.

The extra light a couple of days either side of full moon meant that hopefully the farmers would harvest enough to survive the coming winter, and have enough to sell at the markets which at this time were the lynch pins of the economy.

The nights are becoming noticeably darker earlier in the evenings. September is a transition month for the night sky, when the summer’s bright constellations start to give way to autumn’s finest, primarily the constellation of Pegasus.

The sight of the Great Square of Pegasus clear of the eastern horizon as darkness falls around 9pm by mid-month is a sure sign that autumn is upon us, with the promise of the cooler evenings.

We are not completely done with the summer stars however; the summer triangle of Altair, Deneb and Vega still dominate the early evening sky. Vega, in the constellation of Lyra the Lyre, is still very high in the sky but no longer overheah.

Deneb, in the constellation of Cygnus the Swan, is now at its highest being nearly overhead; while the most southerly of the three stars, Altair, in the constellation of Aquila the Eagle, can still be easily seen but is now somewhat lower in the sky.

The other bright star of the summer skies, the red star Antares in the constellation of Scorpius the Scorpion has now set.

A large part of the south western sky is occupied by the large but faint constellations of Hercules, Ophiuchus the Serpent Bearer and Serpens the Serpent.

As the month progresses and these constellations move towards the horizon, they will be replaced in the south by the equally faint constellations of Capricornus the Sea Goat and Aquarius the Water Bearer.

The Plough, which is also known as Ursa Major or the Great Bear and to the Americans as the Big Dipper, is now getting lower in the northern sky, which means of course that the ‘W’ of Cassiopeia is now getting higher in the sky.

These two groups are on opposite sides of the North Star, or to give its proper name, Polaris, which is found by using the two stars furthest from the handle of the plough and drawing a line from the right hand star through the left star and continuing the line across the sky until you reach the North Star.

If the line is continued further, you reach Cassiopeia.

The Plough is one of our signpost constellations in the night sky and by using the three stars of the handle and curving round and down it is possible to see, low in the north west sky, the bright orange star Arcturus, which has been visible since spring.

This will be the last month when you can see Arcturus before next spring.

Capella, in the constellation of Auriga the Charioteer, is now becoming more prominent in the northern sky.

In the winter months Capella will occupy the overhead point in the sky, which is marked by the bright star Vega during the summer months.

The planets in September are another source of wonder.

The two giant planets Jupiter and Saturn which have graced the night sky throughout the summer are now sinking lower in the south western sky. Jupiter in particular can only be seen in the first half of the month after that it will become too close to the Sun in the sky and will be lost in the evening twilight.

Saturn is only marginally easier to see being left of, or following, Jupiter in the sky.

The other planets Mercury, Mars and Venus are all too close to the sun to be seen this month.

Of course, this time of year provides a further treat when it is a good time to witness meteor showers.

September is often overlooked by meteor observers as there are no major meteor showers, or shooting stars as they are often called, during the month.

However, on the night of September 9t /10 the epsilon Perseids can be seen.

This shower is not to be confused with the Perseid shower in August. Normally very few meteors are seen, but a strong meteor shower was recorded in 2013, while a full moon restricted observations in 2014. Although nothing special was recorded in 2015 or 2016 it might be worthwhile looking out to see if there are any meteors that night.

Being able to see star constellations clearly depends a lot of the phases of the moon as a full moon can sometimes drown out the light of the fainter stars, rather like light pollution from cities and built up areas can affect the number of visible stars we can see with the naked eye.

In September the dates to take note of are: first quarter 6th full moon - 14th, last quarter 22nd new moon - 28th.

On September 23 at 08.50 British Summer Time the autumnal equinox occurs marking the start of autumn in the northern hemisphere and of spring in the southern hemisphere.

The word equinox, comes from the Latin words, aequi, which means equal and nox, which means night. At this instant the sun lies above the equator and both poles of the planet are illuminated, meaning that on this day the length of daylight and night time are the same.

at All Saints’ Church, Earby, from 7.30pm to 9pm. Admission is £1 for adults and free for children, and everyone is welcome.