September 2015

To see a video of this information, go to my YouTube Channel

 

A total lunar eclipse with wonderful timing is coming up at the end of the month, with one easily visible planet in the evening and three possible in the morning.  Prepare now for the eclipse!

 

PLANETS...well, the ones visible with your naked eye

Planets you can see around Sunset – Saturn (SW)

Planets you can see throughout the night – None

Planets you can see in the Morning – Venus (E), Mars (E), Jupiter (E)

 

Mercury – Not really worth looking for this month. 

Venus Rising at about 4am, it gets higher in the sky as the month goes on, so keep looking in the morning before sunrise toward the east.   Close to the Moon on the morning of the 10th.

Mars – Visible in the morning in the east about 30 minutes after Venus.  It’ll be hard to find but it’ll get higher in the sky each morning.  Just look for the reddish star in the east below Venus and very near Regulus (the brightest star in Leo) in the mornings before sunrise. Close to the Moon on the morning of the 10th. 

Jupiter – Visible starting the second week and is below Mars (and Venus) in the East before sunrise

SATURN – Saturn is already in the SW after sunset and moves across the sky to the West and sets by about 10pm. It’ll be the bright point of light to the right of the red, but dimmer, star Antares (which sometimes looks like it’s changing color, due to being low on the horizon and its light having to go through much more atmosphere and turbulence). It’s a great time to check out Saturn’s rings.  Close to the Moon on the 18th. 


EVENTS...

4th– Occultation – Watch Aldebaran emerge from behind the Moon around 12:38am on the night of the 4th/morning of the 5th.  Only some parts of the Earth will see this reappearance of the star from behind the Moon’s dark limb.  To know the precise time based on where you are, timetables are available at lunar-occultations.com/iota/bstar/0905zc692.htm

Last Quarter Moon – 5th (Visible from midnight into the morning)

10thClose Encounter – Moon, Venus, Mars – A very thin crescent Moon moves in between Venus and Mars, which are only about 10˚ apart to begin with.  Bring binoculars and look toward the eastern horizon between 5am and sunrise (6:40am).  The earlier, the better.

New Moon – 13th (darkest skies)

18thClose Encounter – Moon, Saturn – Get out after sunset and look SW for a nice crescent Moon with Saturn 3˚ below and to the left. By 10pm, they’ll be in the West setting.

First Quarter Moon – 21st (Visible until midnight)

23rd – Fall Equinox – When all locations on Earth experience a day of almost exactly 12 hours and a night of almost exactly 12 hours.  It is the astronomical first day of fall, even though meteorologically it typically starts in the beginning of September.

24thClose EncounterMars, Regulus – Look east in the morning between 5am and sunrise and find the brightest star in Leo (Regulus) and Mars less than 1˚ apart for two nights.  If you can’t find them, look for bright Venus about 10˚ up and to the right.

TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE – Full Moon – 27th (Visible all night) – A FANTASTIC eclipse, especially for those in Eastern North America who will be able to see the whole thing, starting after sunset and ending around 12:30am.  No super late night necessary!  Here’s how to watch it:

·       Get outside on September 27th and look to the East for the full Moon.

·       At 8:40 p.m. EDT, the penumbral portion will start.  You probably won’t see anything happen though, since this is the lighter portion of the Earth’s shadow, and it barely dims the Moon’s surface

·       At 9:07 p.m. EDT, the partial eclipse begins.  This is when the dark inner portion of the Earth’s shadow starts to engulf the Moon, taking about an hour to “eat it up”, leaving the eaten portion a dark red hue.

·       At 10:11 p.m. EDT TOTALITY begins.  If you start looking around now, look SE for a dark Moon.  The Moon is completely within the Earth’s shadow, but it will still appear a reddish/orange, since some sunlight has passed through the Earth’s atmosphere and, in passing, lost the BIV part of its spectrum and bent toward the Moon.  Essentially, you are witnessing the light from all of the sunsets and sunrises on Earth projected onto the Moon all at one time.  The Moon will be darkest at mid-eclipse, at 10:48 p.m.

·       At 11:23 p.m. EDT, totality will end, and the Moon will begin its hour-long exit from the shadow of the Earth, ending at 12:27 a.m. EDT.  By this point the Moon will be much higher in the sky and more toward the South.

            More info at earthsky, timeanddate, and Sky & Telescope

CONSTELLATIONS... (see sky map link at the bottom for a Star Map for this month – or ask Mr. Webb)    Look straight up and you'll see...

Just after Sunset (around 7:30pm) – Lyra the Harp, Cygnus the Swan

Extra Challenge! Use binoculars (or even a telescope) and a star chart to scan through the southern constellation of Sagittarius.  There are at least 7 easily visible clusters and nebulas up and to the right of the “teapot” of Sagittarius.

Between Sunset and MidnightLyra, Cygnus, Aquila (a little to the south) – These are the Summer constellations, and since they are visible right above us around midnight (and to the east after sunrise), it’s now summer!  More details below in the “General Constellation Finding Tips” 

Midnight – Lacerta, Pegasus, Andromeda – Extra Challenge!  Using your naked eye (dark-adapted and in a dark area) or binoculars under normal conditions and a star chart, try finding our neighboring Andromeda Galaxy.  It’ll be a faint fuzzy in the constellation Andromeda.

Early Morning – Perseus, Auriga -  Also, if you look to the SE in the morning, you’ll find the winter constellations of Orion, Taurus, Auriga, Gemini, and Canis Major.

GENERAL CONSTELLATION FINDING TIPS: 

Summer Constellations: Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila, Delphinus

Look straight up before 10pm and you’ll be able to see Lyra (the Harp), Cygnus (the Swan), Aquila (the Eagle), (and Delphinus the Dolphin.)  These three constellations have the three brightest stars of the summer constellations (Vega, Deneb, Altair – respectively.)  Those bright stars create the summer triangle.  Off to the east of this is the small but beautiful constellation of Delphinus. If you’re under dark skies (away from city lights) you may just catch a glimpse of the Milky Way passing through Cygnus and Aquila.  If you’re looking past 10pm, they’ll be moving toward the West and lower in the sky.

Fall Constellations: Andromeda, Pegasus

If you can find the Summer Triangle and Delphinus, about 40˚ to the East (leftish) will be the Great Square of the fall constellation Pegasus.  Perhaps you’ll even see the two curves of Andromeda off of one side, with the Andromeda Galaxy as a small, faint fuzzy nearby (you’ll need dark skies to see it).  A sky map will help you tremendously in finding these.  You’ll see these in the East after sunset, straight above you around midnight, and in the West in the morning.

Use a sky map from www.skymaps.com to help you out.

 



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