Full Moon: Tuesday September 6th
Last Quarter: 13th
New Moon: 20th
First Quarter: 27th
September offers a good chance to catch a glimpse of the planet closest to the sun. Mercury is rarely easy. It is found low on the horizon in the pre-dawn sky, so the window of opportunity is small. DO NOT LOOK AT THE SUN WITHOUT CERTIFIED PROTECTIVE FILTERING! All that said, this month is our chance to catch Mercury.
Venus continues to dazzle in the pre-dawn skies, but is gradually getting lower. Enjoy it in the early morning sky for the next month or so before it disappears from view.
If you’re lucky and have a really flat horizon to the East, you MIGHT catch a glimpse of Mars before the Sun rises, but odds improve later in September. It’s quite low but give it a try!
Very, very, last call for Jupiter this month! At the 1st of the month it will be low (~15*) in the West at sunset, and will set by 9 pm. It’s getting lower and lower in the western sky, and by month’s end will be near the horizon, soon to go behind the sun and disappear from view. It’s been a nice, long run for “The King”, but he’s going away soon, so catch him while you can. Even in a very small scope, bands can be visible on the planet and the four largest moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto can be seen. By the end of the month, he sets around 7:20 pm. Jupiter will reappear low in the pre-dawn sky in November.
Is visible in the south at sunset, setting around 2 am at the beginning of the month, setting around midnight at the end. Observing conditions will continue to degrade over the next few months as it continues to sink lower in the sky, before disappearing from view. That said, the planet is tilted at a great angle affording a great view of the rings. The Cassini Gap is visible in a modest scope so give it a look. This pretty planet is always worth a peek. Saturn never disappoints.
This Ice Giant rises around 11 pm early in the month and is visible for the rest of the night. Rises around 9 pm at the end of the month. Noteworthy because it is very high in the sky. Hasn’t been this high since the 1960’s. This is a very faint object, very far from Earth, so if you are hunting Uranus, you don’t need me to tell you where it is. In a telescope it will appear as small, pale, blue-green disk, with no surface detail visible. Still you will be able to saw you spotted it.
This Ice Giant rises around 9:30 at the start of the month and about 7:30 at the end of the month. Everything from Uranus applies only much more difficult. September is the best month this year to try to see it. It is visible for almost the entire night. Neptune is the farthest planet from the Sun, more than 30 times more distant than we are.