September 2014 astronomy events

¡SkyCaramba! Weekly astronomy blog for the week ending September 6, 2014

September 2014 starts with a fat crescent moon passing between Saturn and Mars. The ringed and red planets are in Libra visible in the southwest after sunset. Vega in Lyra is high overhead from middle northern latitudes. The Great Square in Pegasus is rising.

Mars is moving eastward into Scorpio. On the 18th, it’s just 0.5° north of Dschubba. You’ll find the red planet 3.2° north of Antares on the 29th and the moon passes by it again on the 30th. At the end of the month, Saturn is still in the middle of Libra.

The moon will pass in front of Saturn on the 28th. Prime viewing is in the northern Pacific Ocean.

Mercury is at greatest elongation 26.4° east of the sun on the 21st. It just happens to be passing about 0.5° south of Spica around the same time. Unfortunately for most northern hemisphere observers, the planet and star will set shortly after the sun does. They are higher above the sun for those near the equator and in the southern hemisphere. The best views will be from about 26° south.

Morning stargazers will see Jupiter just below Asellus Australis, the southern donkey, in Cancer. The big planet is a little farther below every morning. A thin waning crescent moon passes south of Jupiter on the 20th.

Venus rises not long before the sun. Those at about 25° north will have the best views of her this month. But Venus will get closer to the sun every day and become much harder to spot in the glare by month’s end. The planet is at perihelion 0.718 astronomical units from the sun on the 5th.

The September equinox is at 02:30 Universal Time on the 23rd.

The asteroid Vesta is at perihelion 2.15 AU from the sun on the 23rd. It’s still somewhat close to Saturn in the sky, having passed 1.2° north of the ringed planet on the 13th.

The southern Pacific Ocean, New Zealand, and some parts of Antarctica will get a lunar occultation of Uranus on the 1st. This will be an added bonus for those already watching the moon near Mars and Saturn.

Another occultation of Uranus happens on the 29th. This will be visible from the far southern Atlantic Ocean, South Africa, and the Agulhas Basin.