Here is a list of upcoming Astronomy events for September. Night clouds all but ruined most viewing in August, however we did have some successes!
Friday 2nd September – Looking south, Comet C/2009 P1 Garradd passes in between the easily indentifiable stars Vega and Altair (and directly below Albireo), just south of Brocchi’s Cluster over the next 3 evenings. Also known as the Coathanger Cluster, it resembles an upside down coathanger and the comet will almost pass parallel to the line of the “hanger” part, just below the hook (which it is closest to on the 3rd)
Comet Garradd position on 2nd, 3rd and 4th September, below Albireo (click to enlarge) - Credit: Stellarium/Sky-Watching
Saturday 3rd September – Mercury is at its greatest western elongation, meaning it will rise (and should be visible) just before the Sun early morning
Sunday 4th September – First Quarter Moon. The recently discovered supernova in M101 (the Pinwheel Galaxy, in the Plough constellation) should be visible through binoculars over coming days. Click here for a guide to locating M101!
Thursday 8th September – NASA is due to launch the twin Grail spacecraft to the Moon, where they will map the gravity field and provide details about the inner core. Grail will launch on a Delta II rocket, to be covered on NASA TV. There are two launch windows at 08:37 and 09:16 EDT (13:37 BST and 14:16 BST), but the launch period extends through to 19th October, with launch times occurring around 4 minutes earlier each day
Using precision formation-flying, the GRAIL spacecraft will map the moon's gravity field (artist's rendering) - Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Monday 12th September – The Full Moon tonight is also known as the Harvest or Wine Moon. Due to its tilted orbit the Moon in September runs roughly parallel to the horizon, and rises around the same time for consecutive evenings (18:38 BST on 11th, 18:55 BST on 12th and 19:12 BST on 13th)
Thursday 15th September – Moon at Apogee (the point of its orbit farthest away from the Earth) 406,065 km
Tuesday 20th September – Last Quarter Moon. Jupiter (which is present in the night sky all month) rises at 20:20 BST, about 3 hours before the Moon. A truly beautiful sight through a telescope, we’re hoping to get a better look (and take some more images) this month
Our image of Jupiter taken on 21st September 2010, we're hoping to get more pics this year (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn
Friday 23rd September – Autumn Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere (at 09:04 GMT). Equinox occurs twice a year, when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is inclined neither toward or away from the Sun (the center of the Sun being in the same plane as the Earth’s equator), so day and night are about the same length. This near equilibrium is referred to as the Equilux, where night and day are closest to being 12 hours each (and occurs over 24-25th September)
Sunday 25th September – The gas giant Uranus is at its closest to the Earth today (this year) and should be visible to an unaided eye if your skies are dark enough. Found in the constellation Pisces, Uranus is the only planet to orbit the Sun on its side (possibly the result of a collision in its infancy) and at last count had 27 Moons!
Uranus is closest to Earth this year on 25th September (guide above at 23:30 BST) Click to enlarge - Credit: Stellarium/Sky-Watching
Tuesday 27th September – New Moon, a great time to observe deep sky objects without disruption
Wednesday 28th September – Moon at Perigee, the closest point to Earth in it’s orbit (357,560 km)
We’re hoping to finally get a look at Comet Garradd this month, re-image Jupiter and have a look for the new supernova in the Pinwheel Galaxy! Rather ambitious given our luck this year with the weather, but we’ll see!
Remember, it can take your eyes up to 20 minutes to become properly dark adapted, and anything up to an hour for a telescope to reach ambient temperature outside (to ensure the best image), so give yourself plenty of time to get set up!
We recently added the “Monthly Guide” section in the menu bar to the right (where this guide will appear), so next time you visit you can find it again easily!
Guide images created with Stellarium
Astronomy Events – August 2011
Astronomy Events – July 2011
Astronomy Events – June 2011