The ninth month of the year promises some of the interesting astronomy events. While the previous two months were rich in eclipses, this month is marked with close encounters of Moon with three planets and one deep sky object. Here are the dates of some of the major celestial events of September:
September 7: Neptune at opposition
On the night of September 7, the Roman God of Sea will be at opposition. The means that the Sun, Earth and Neptune will be in a straight line and Neptune will make its closest approach to Earth. Although Neptune isn’t visible with the naked eye, it will be visible in a telescope in the constellation of Aries. The image below shows the position of Neptune at 8 p.m. in India. At opposition, the planet is visible the entire night and sets at sunrise.
September 7: Close Encounter of Moon with M44
On September 7, when Neptune will be lurking close to Earth, our little Moon will be busy dating the star cluster M44 (Beehive Cluster) in the constellation of Cancer. The Beehive Cluster has an apparent magnitude of +3.4 and thus it will be visible with the naked eye. The Moon will be 27 days old and thus its glare won’t hide the cluster. It will rise at 3:03 IST. So you need to wake up quite early to witness this celestial event.
September 9: Piscid Meteor Shower Peak
The Piscid Meteor shower will peak on the night of September 9. The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible is around 10 per hour. From New Delhi , the radiant (the point from where streaks originate) of the shower will appear 57° above your south-eastern horizon at midnight. This means you may be able to see around 8 meteors per hour, since the radiant will be high in the sky, maximising the chance of seeing meteors.
September 13: Close Encounter of Jupiter and Moon
The largest planet of our solar system and our Moon will make a close approach in the evening sky of September 13. After the sunset, look for the young, 5 days old Moon in South Western sky and just 4 degrees apart will be Jupiter. Jupiter will be easily visible as bright speck with the unaided eye in Libra.
September 17: Close Approach of Moon and Saturn
After a date with Jupiter, Moon will have a close encounter with the Lord of the Rings, Saturn. The two will be just 2 degrees apart. The Moon will be 9 days old. Saturn will be fainter than Jupiter but bright enough to be visible with the naked eye. For most of the world, these two celestial bodies will appear at their closest in the middle of the night.
September 19: Close Approach of Moon and Mars
This will be the third close encounter of Moon with a planet in a span of a week. This time its The Roman God of War, Mars. The duo will be 5 degrees apart. As the Moon will be 11 days old, it will easy to spot the pair just after dusk.
September 23: The September Equinox
This day will mark the beginning of winters in the Northern Hemisphere and summers in the Southern Hemisphere. On this day, sunlight will fall directly over the Equator, for the second time in the year. The duration of day and night will be equal at Equator. In the sky, as winters are approaching, summer constellations like Scorpious and Bootes are making way for winter constellations like Orion and Taurus.
September 25: Full Moon and Venus at its Brightest
As one of the brightest objects in the sky (usually third behind the sun and moon), Venus is always eye-catching. On September 25th, she’ll appear particularly bright due to its phase and placement in the night sky. Look for Venus in the southwestern sky just above the horizon. You may need to move to a higher elevation or find an open space to admire our planetary neighbour as she shines most brightly for this time of year.
That’s it for September. Stay tuned next month for the best night sky events in October 2018.