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Astronomers and sky gazers had a treat in August as the Perseids peaked on the night of 13th. Let us see what this month has in store for us. Here are the top astronomy events in September 2019.
September 1: Aurigid Meteor Shower
The Aurigid meteor shower will peak on the first day of this month. It will be active from 28th August to 5th September. Although this weak meteor shower produces only 6 meteors per hour, it occassionly performs much better. Rates six times higher than normal occurred in 1935, 1986, and 1994, and viewers recorded up to 130 meteors per hour for a brief stretch in 2007. No one knows when the shower will burst out again, but conditions should be nearly perfect this year with the Moon absent from the morning sky.
The comet Kiess (C/1911 N1) is the source of the material that causes the meteors. The comets orbital period is stated as approximately 1800 to 2000 years. The radiant of the shower lies in the constellation of Auriga as shown below.
September 8: Conjunction of Moon and Saturn
On September 8 at 13:42 UTC, the Moon and Saturn will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 0°02' to the south of Saturn. The Moon will be 9 days old. The pair will be visible in the evening sky and will remain till after midnight. The Moon will be at mag -12.2 and Saturn at 0.2 so the ringed planet will be easily visible with the naked eye. The pair will be close enough to fit within the field of view of a telescope. They will be in the constellation of Sagittarius.
September 9: Close approach of moon and pluto
After a close date with the Lord of the Rings, the Moon will pass within 0°03' of each other. The Moon will be 10 days old on this occasion. The pair will be visible after Sunset and will be there in the sky till an hour after midnight. Pluto will be at mag 14.7 and hence won't be visible with the naked eye. They will be close enough to fit in the view of a telescope. On the night of September 9, Moon and Pluto will be in Sagittarius.
September 10: Neptune at opposition
One of the most important astronomy events in September 2019 will take place on the night of 10th. The Roman God of Sea will be at opposition. At around the same time, Neptune will make its closest approach to Earth. At opposition, a planet is visible all night. So Neptune will soon rise at dusk and sink below the horizon at dawn.
Neptune will be at a distance of 28.93 AU but at mag 7.8. So even at its closest approach, it won't be possible to see the it with the naked eye. You will need a telescope for that. It will lie in the constellation of Aquarius.
September 13: Moon at apogee
The Moon will reach the furthest point along its orbit to Earth -its apogee- and will appear slightly smaller. The Moon's distance from the Earth varies because its orbit is not perfectly circular – it is instead slightly oval-shaped, tracing out a path called an ellipse.
September 14: Full Moon
The Moon will reach full phase. At this time in its monthly cycle of phases, the Moon lies almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky, placing it high above the horizon for much of the night.
Over the nights following 14 September, the Moon will rise around an hour later each day, becoming prominent later in the night. Within a few days, it will only be visible in the pre-dawn and early-morning sky. By the time it reaches last quarter, a week after full moon, it will rise at around midnight and set at around noon.
September 23: Fall Equinox
The Fall Equinox will take place on September 23. For those in the Northern Hemisphere, it will be the first day of autumn and for those in Southern Hemisphere, it will be the first day of Spring. Just like the spring equinox in March, the length of day and night will be equal (12 hours each). From here on, nights will start getting longer in Northern hemisphere. The Sun will be in Virgo at the time of equinox.
September 28: New Moon and Moon at perigee
The Moon will pass close to the Sun and will be lost in its glare. On the same day, the Moon will reach the closest point to Earth - its perigee. Over coming days, the Moon will rise and set an hour later each day, becoming visible in the late afternoon and dusk sky as a waxing crescent which sets soon after the Sun. By first quarter, in a week's time, it will be visible until around midnight.
So these were the major astronomy events in September 2019. Stay tuned for updates...