Night sky guide for September 2014

night-sky-guide-for-september-2014

The Moon will be well placed for observation in the evening sky on September 2. It will place itself directly opposite the Earth from the Sun on September 9 at 01:38 UTC and will be fully illuminated – this full moon is known as Full Corn Moon and the Harvest Moon. On the same day, Piscid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity but the full moon will severely limit the observations.

Mars and Saturn are visible low in the evening sky during September and the star cluster M2 in Aquarius is featured.

Early risers can look at the eastern horizon, find Jupiter and use it to observe the huge pyramid of light – Zodiacal Light – appearing one to two hours before sunrise. Zodiacal Light is the reflection of sunlight of cosmic dust particles, the debris from comet and asteroid collisions in our solar system, which is sometimes confused with the Milky Way. It t is best seen from mid-September to early October.

September 2 – Moon at First Quarter. All around the world, the Moon will be well placed for observation in the evening sky. The period when the Moon shows half phase is ideal for observing the Moon with a pair of binoculars or a small telescope, because the mountains and craters on its surface are presented very clearly. Even though only half of the Moon's face is illuminated, this is a time when the terminator line which divides the illuminated and unilluminated portions of the Moon's disk is clearly visible. Along this line, an observer on the Moon would see the Sun rising above the horizon. As it does so, it illuminates the lunar landscape at a low angle, making mountains and crater rims cast long shadows which are easy to see from Earth, even through a modest pair of binoculars. (ITS)

September 9 – Full Moon – 01:38 UTC. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Corn Moon because the corn is harvested around this time of year. This moon is also known as the Harvest Moon, the full moon that occurs closest to the September equinox each year. (SeaSky)

September 9 – Piscid Meteor Shower. Some shooting stars from this meteor shower will be visible each night from September to October, but the best show is expected on or around September 9. The maximum number of meteors expected to be visible from a dark location is around 10 per hour but the full moon will severely limit the observations that will be possible.

September 23 – September Equinox – 02:29 UTC. The Sun will shine directly on the equator and there will be nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world. This is also the first day of fall – autumnal equinox – in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of spring – vernal equinox – in the Southern Hemisphere. 

September 24 – New Moon – 06:14 UTC. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

Video courtesy of Hubble Space Telescope

Video courtesy of NASA's JPL

Featured image credit: TW (NASA, SolarSystemScope)

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