Who doesn’t love some late summer stargazing? This time of year is known for its clear skies and warm evenings, making it the ideal time to bust out the telescope and aim it skyward. Here are the sights worth marking on your calendar for mid-September.
On the evening of September 9th, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot will be visible from the Northern Hemisphere. From 8:30 to 11:30, eastern time, the GRS will be visible in the Americas. Due to Jupiter’s rapid rotation and angle in relation to Earth, it’s somewhat difficult to get a good look at the Spot outside of specific windows of time every two or three days.
Just after sundown on the 12th, a fascinating sight involving Venus and Mercury will be visible on the Western horizon. The two inner planets will appear to be only a few degrees from one another from an observer on Earth, making for a stunning twilight scene. Even binoculars will be strong enough to pick up the luminosity of the two planets, since they’re so close to Earth.
However, we recommend at least a low-power telescope for ideal viewing!
A full Harvest moon will rise on the evening of September 14th. Due to this being the closest full moon to the Autumnal Equinox, it’s called the Harvest moon. It got this name due to its unusual characteristic of rising earlier in the night than other times of the year.
This is due to the Earth’s orbit bringing it into an elliptical pattern. As such, the brighter and longer light of the Harvest moon allowed farmers to work for longer around the time the harvest needed to come in, thus giving it the name.
On the 18th day of September, Saturn will stand still. At least, it’ll appear to stand still from our point of view. Due to an interesting interaction between the orbit of the Earth and the orbit of Saturn, the planet will appear to cease its motion through the sky and then reverse course on the evening of the 18th.
Look for the yellowish planet in the Southern sky, near the horizon, among the stars of Sagittarius.