September is usually a good month for us for observing. It’s not so cold your fingers freeze, but it is dark enough earlier in the evening now to get some good stargazing in before finally falling in to bed.
And there are also fewer neighbours sat outside with garden lights on messing up our viewing!
There is always something worth observing in the night sky, but as usual we’ve cherry picked some of the best upcoming points of astronomical interest over the next month. So keep watching the skies!
Thursday 5th September – This evening sees a new Moon which rises and sets with the Sun, making now a good time to observe deep sky objects like star clusters, galaxies and nebulae
Sunday 8th September – If you’ve got good binoculars or a telescope you can have a look at something we imaged ourselves in 2011. Mars can be found accompanied by M44, or the Beehive Cluster (also called Praesepe) low down near the eastern horizon early this morning
We imaged Mars passing through M44 in October 2011, at the end of a very busy evening
How it appears above is almost exactly as you’ll see it this time around too!
Thursday 12th September – This morning the Moon is seen at First Quarter phase
Sunday 15th September – The Moon is at Perigee today at a distance of 367,385 km (228,282 miles), the closest point of its orbit to the Earth
Thursday 19th September – The Full Moon appearing in the sky today is also sometimes known as the Barley Moon, Nut Moon or Harvest Moon
Sunday 22nd September – Today it is Autumnal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere
Friday 27th September – The Moon appears at Last Quarter phase this evening, and is also at Apogee at a distance of 404,880 km (251,581 miles), the farthest point out in its orbit around the Earth
Saturday 28th September – If you’d like a look at the farthest night sky object you can still see with the naked eye, the Andromeda Galaxy is high overhead around midnight at the moment
Best viewed under dark skies with the Moon absent, a good pair of binoculars should give you a nice look at a galaxy which is a close mirror image to our own Milky Way
It will be overhead late evening/early morning for a while, so if you get chance to have a closer look at it make sure you do!
It’s well worth it 🙂
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 Stellarium