¡SkyCaramba! Weekly astronomy blog for August 30 to September 5, 2015
September stars with Neptune at opposition right in the middle of Aquarius. The moon is close to full though. The distant planet won’t move much, so you can try your luck at finding it as the moon rises later each night over the next week or so.
Look for Mercury in the evening sky at the start of September. It’s at greatest elongation on the 4th. Best viewing is from the lower to middle southern latitudes. Its 27.1° separation from the sun is about as much as the messenger planet can offer. Its fast orbit takes it to inferior conjunction (between Earth and the sun) on the 30th.
The moon will occult Uranus twice this month. On the 1st, viewing will be from New Zealand and the ocean south of it to Antarctica. On the 29th, the viewing area will be a zone stretching from South Georgia Island to South Africa and south to Antarctica. The moon passes in front of Aldebaran on the 5th for sky watchers in most of Quebec, the United States in and east of New York State, and most of the far northern Atlantic Ocean.
If you’re up in the morning, you should be looking east for the Venus and Mars morning show. A little below the star Acubens (the claws of Cancer the crab), the moon passes between them on the 10th. Look for the moon next to Jupiter on the 12th and start watching that planet too. The red planet is quickly dropping into Leo. It passes Regulus on the 24th. Notice by the end of September how Venus is moving toward Mars again, and Jupiter is preparing to join them. That’ll come in October.
People in southern Africa and the far south Indian Ocean get a partial solar eclipse on the 13th.
A first quarter moon at southern lunistice occurs on the 21st.
The September equinox is at 08:21 UT on the 23rd.
A total lunar eclipse happens on the 28th. For most people watching from the Americas, it will be on the evening of the 27th. The moon will be in the deepest part of Earth’s shadow for more than an hour.
More graphics related to the month’s events are below.