Summer obviously found somewhere better to be this year, after promising early hints of it looking to impose itself for a long stay. Plans of weekends spent outdoors with the BBQ going remain unfulfilled, and our night sky observing was limited to a single cloudy evening of Perseid meteor spotting!
For amateur stargazers however we’re now approaching one of the better times of year, longer evenings without the inconvenience of being frozen solid, so there’s more opportunity to spend some quality time outdoors watching the sky.
Below we’ve picked out some interesting interstellar instances for the month of September to help enhance your enjoyment the heavens!
Keep watching those skies…
Tuesday 1st September – The often illusive Neptune is at opposition in the constellation Aquarius today, so as it’s opposite the Sun in the sky it rises at sunset and sets at sunrise. It’s too faint to see by eye but if your skies are dark enough you might be able to catch it with binoculars or a small telescope
Friday 4th September – Mercury is at Greatest Eastern Elongation, closely chasing the Sun across the sky
Saturday 5th September – This morning our Moon will be seen at Last Quarter phase
Sunday 13th September – Today the New Moon rises and sets with the Sun, so now is a good time to observe deep sky objects like galaxies and nebulae
Monday 14th September – The Moon is at Apogee today at a distance of 406,465 km (252,566 miles), the furthest point its orbit will take it away from the Earth this month
Wednesday 16th September – To help you with identifying the constellations you can see throughout the month, below we’ve provided guide images for both southern and northern skies in September
Sunday 20th September – The brightest evening object Venus shines that little bit brighter at the moment, attaining greatest brilliancy today (at mag -4.5)
Monday 21st September – This morning the Moon will be seen at First Quarter phase
Wednesday 23rd September – Today it is Autumnal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere
Monday 28th September – If you’re up late (or rising early!) on Monday morning you’ll not want to miss the total lunar eclipse of a September Full Moon (sometimes known as the Barley Moon, Mulberry Moon or Harvest Moon, but at eclipse it’s a Blood Moon)
Appearing at Perigee at a distance of 356,875 km (221,752 miles) from the Earth, this supermoon is the closest of the year, and will be completely eclipsed by the Earth’s shadow, first experiencing the weak penumbral shade soon after midnight UTC (01:00 BST), and entering the darker umbral shadow phase about an hour later at 01:07 UTC (02:07 BST)
Totality will occur another hour after that (about 02:11 UTC / 03:11 BST) and last for just over another hour! Cameras and scopes at the ready as we’d love to image this properly. Please let the weather be kind!
Wednesday 30th September – Inner planet Mercury is at Inferior Conjunction and is currently unobservable
As usual, if you take any photos throughout September you’d like to show us, please tweet them to us using the link below! We’d love to see your efforts and we’ll re-tweet them to your fellow sky-watchers!
Planets visible this month:
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!
To make it easier to find this list of astronomical happenings you can also locate it in the “Monthly Guide” section in the menu bar to the right. Handy! :)
Guide images created with StellariumFollow @sky_watching