If you’re an avid stargazer, you’ll likely want to know the best times to point your telescope skyward.
Today we’re looking ahead to some of the most interesting upcoming celestial events you can see from Earth! Some of these sights will require a telescope or binoculars, while others will be visible with the naked eye.
Let’s take a look!
September 23: Equinox
Throughout the day on Monday, stargazers will get to see the closest star to Earth make its crossing of the celestial equator. Of course, we’re talking about Sol, that bright star at the center of our Solar System. The sun will cut Southward across the sky, marking the Autumnal Equinox.
This event marks the start of Fall in the Northern Hemisphere, as well as being only one of two days in the year where time is divided equally between daylight and nighttime hours. The other, of course, is the Vernal Equinox in March, which marks the end of Winter and the start of Spring.
September 25: Vesta Reversal
On Wednesday, September 25, eagle-eyed stargazers might notice an interesting move in the asteroid Vesta. Due to the Earth’s orbit, the asteroid will appear to reverse course from our point of view. This will set the asteroid into a westward retrograde loop around the stars that make up the constellation Taurus.
In order to spot the asteroid, get some binoculars or a telescope. The movement will occur just after dark. Look for the star Gamma Tauri (it’s the bull’s chin, which you can see with your naked eye). The asteroid will be slightly over magnitude 7, sitting slightly to the West (about nine degrees) of Gamma Tauri.
September 27: Zodiacal Light
Before dawn breaks on Friday morning, look to the eastern sky. You’ll notice some interesting light: this isn’t the sun peeking over the horizon, but is instead Zodiacal light. What you’re seeing is light reflecting off of interplanetary particles that are concentrated across the plane of the solar system.
This phenomenon occurs every year in the Northern Hemisphere between late September and early October, after the New Moon. The lack of the moon in the sky makes the Zodiacal light easier to detect near Leo, centered on the ecliptic.