FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18
■ Jupiter and Saturn this week proceed shining practically stage within the south at nightfall, as proven under. They tilt to the proper as night advances. They set within the southwest round midnight or 1 a.m.
■ The season is altering; you’ll be able to see it within the stars. We have reached the time of 12 months when, simply after dusk, Cassiopeia has already climbed a bit of increased within the northeast than the Massive Dipper has sunk within the northwest. Cassiopeia, a flattened W form, marks the excessive northern sky in early night in the course of the chilly fall-winter half of the 12 months. The Massive Dipper takes over for the milder evenings of spring and summer time.
Virtually midway between them stands Polaris, due north. It is at present a bit of above the midpoint between the 2.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19
■ Arcturus, the “Spring Star,” shines a bit of decrease within the west after darkish each week as summer time turns to fall (the September equinox comes on Tuesday). From Arcturus, the slim, kite-shaped sample of Bootes extends a bit of extra that two fists at arm’s size to the higher proper.
■ Moonless evenings will quickly finish for this month, however there’s nonetheless time to catch the Milky Method underneath a darkish sky. When Deneb crosses your zenith (two hours after Vega; round 9 or 10 p.m. now), the Milky Method does too — working straight up from the southwest horizon, and straight all the way down to the northeast horizon.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 20
■ How nicely do you actually know the long-lasting Ring Nebula in Lyra? Within the night after moonset it is excessive overhead, in most likely the darkest a part of your sky. Discover its subtleties with Howard Banich’s Going Deep column within the September Sky & Telescope, beginning on web page 58.
And discover the world of the outstretched hand of Andromeda, together with the Blue Snowball nebula, a refined galaxy, and several other good double stars, beginning on web page 62.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 21
■ Mercury and fainter Spica seem solely 2/three° aside this night, and three/four° aside tomorrow night, for North America. They’re magnitudes zero and +1, respectively, however they could be a problem to identify even with binoculars since they’re already very low above the west-southwest horizon in vivid twilight simply 15 or 20 minutes after sundown. And throughout a lot of North America, your low view could also be additional hindered by forest-fire smoke excessive within the environment.
Mercury and Spica seem shut sufficient collectively to suit simply into the view of a telescope at 50x or much less. . . as soon as you discover them.
■ Moon occults double star this night. The darkish fringe of the waxing crescent Moon eclipses the high quality telescopic double star Beta Scorpii, magnitudes 2.6 and four.5, for many of North America besides the Northeast. Use a telescope to observe the pair disappear stepwise behind the Moon’s earthlit edge, one after the opposite some seconds aside.
Within the East the Moon will likely be very low. The mid-longitudes of the continent get the perfect view, in early-evening darkness with the Moon much less low. Close to the West Coast the star’s disappearance occurs in daylight, and its reappearance out from behind the Moon’s vivid limb happens in twilight. Map and timetables for a lot of cities.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22
■ Summer season ends and fall begins (within the Northern Hemisphere) at the moment at 9:31 a.m. EDT (13:31 UT). That is when the Solar crosses the equator heading south for the season. The Solar rises virtually due east and units virtually due west, very near 12 hours aside.
■ Coincidentally, round when summer time turns to autumn yearly, Deneb takes over from brighter Vega because the zenith star after dusk (for skywatchers at mid-northern latitudes).
■ Round dusk, search for Antares to the decrease proper of the crescent Moon. They’re getting low within the southwest.
■ Jupiter’s Nice Pink Spot ought to transit Jupiter’s central meridian round 9:23 p.m. Japanese Daylight Time. Simply four minutes later Jupiter’s moon Io enters the jap fringe of the planet’s disk, adopted by Io’s tiny black shadow at 10:42 p.m. EDT. Io and its shadow depart the opposite facet of Jupiter’s face at 11:43 p.m. and 12:58 a.m. EDT, respectively.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23
■ First-quarter Moon (actual at 9:55 p.m. EDT). The Moon shines within the south at nightfall. To its left are Jupiter and Saturn, pointing at it.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24
■ Now the Moon, a day previous first quarter, shines only a few levels from Jupiter. Saturn appears to be like on from their left, as proven under.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
■ Now it is Saturn’s flip to pair with the Moon, whereas Jupiter shines to their proper, as proven above.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26
■ The waxing gibbous Moon shines within the south in mid-evening, contained in the dim boat-shaped sample of Capricornus. Off to its proper are Saturn after which Jupiter.
Look a bit of farther to the Moon’s decrease left for Fomalhaut, the Autumn Star, slowly gaining altitude.
This Week’s Planet Roundup
Mercury is having a really low, poor apparition deep within the sundown. At the very least it is pretty vivid at magnitude –zero.1 this week, so go forward and check out. Deliver binoculars not less than. About 15 minutes after sundown whereas twilight remains to be vivid, begin scanning for it simply above the west-southwest horizon. Good luck.
Additionally within the neighborhood is Spica, a magnitude fainter and twinklier. Spica and Mercury are ¾° or much less from one another on September 21st and 22nd, once they’ll simply match collectively in a telescope’s 40-power view.
Venus (magnitude –four.2, crossing from Most cancers into Leo) rises in deep darkness two hours earlier than daybreak begins, within the east-northeast far under Pollux and Castor. By the point daybreak will get underneath method, Venus shines prominently within the east, as proven under. Every morning it is drawing nearer to a lot fainter Regulus.
Procyon shines about 30° (about three first at arm’s size) to Venus’s higher proper. To the proper or decrease proper of Procyon shines effulgent Sirius — the brightest star, however nowhere close to a match for Venus.
In a telescope, Venus continues to shrink slowly into the space; it is now 17 arcseconds in diameter. And it is turning into extra gibbous, 67% sunlit now, because it rounds towards passing behind the Solar subsequent winter.
Regulus is climbing up out of the daybreak on its approach to passing about ½° from Venus on October 2nd and third.
Mars shines ever greater, brighter and nearer because it approaches its October 13th opposition! It should cross closest by Earth on October sixth. And it is rising earlier too. This week it rises within the east in late twilight, shining vivid orange at magnitude –2.three, virtually Jupiter-bright. Mars climbs increased via the night and stands at its highest and telescopic finest round 2 or three a.m. daylight-saving time, beaming down from excessive within the south. It is close to the dim (4th-magnitude) Knot of Pisces.
Mars is already 21 or 22 arcseconds in obvious diameter, as huge for all sensible functions as will probably be when passing closest by Earth (22.6 arcseconds). Search for its white South Polar Cap, now enormously shrunken as summer time advances in Mars’s southern hemisphere. There could or will not be any patches of cloud; this appears to be a transparent season on Mars.
However Mars’s dusky floor markings are the everlasting attraction. To get a map of the facet dealing with Earth on the date and time you will observe, you should use our Mars Profiler. The map there’s sq.; keep in mind to mentally wrap it onto the facet of a globe. (Options close to the map’s edges develop into very foreshortened.)
Mars on August 27th, imaged at very excessive decision by Enrico Enzmann and Damian Peach with a 76cm (30-inch) telescope. South is up. Darkish Syrtis Main juts down from heart. Higher left of it’s darkish Mare Tyrrhenum. Above them is the massive, round Hellas Basin, lighter in coloration however not as vivid as when it is crammed with cloud or frost. Sinus Meridiani is on the heart of the right-hand (morning) limb.One other facet of Mars, imaged by Peach on September 11 with a 250-cm (10-inch) Mewlon Dall-Kirkham telescope. Darkish Mare Sirenum and Mare Cimmerium lengthen to the proper and much proper, respectively. The South Polar Cap seems even smaller than earlier than. A number of the grey South Polar Cloud Hood extends round from the underside limb. Left of heart, the pair of small, weak whitish marks are orographic cloud at Arsia Mons, says Peach.
Jupiter and Saturn (magnitudes –2.four and +zero.four, respectively) shine within the south throughout nightfall and early night, as proven on the high of this web page, then transfer to the southwest as night grows late. Jupiter is the brightest. Saturn stays eight° to its left.
Very excessive above them shines Altair, magnitude +zero.eight. It is white-hot, 11 occasions as luminous because the Solar, and simply 17 light-years away.
A lot nearer under Jupiter after darkish is the deal with of the Sagittarius Teapot. The brightest star of the deal with (the upper-right one) is Sigma Sagittarii or Nunki, magnitude 2.zero. It is an excellent bigger, hotter blue-white star: four.5 occasions the diameter of the Solar, 3300 occasions as luminous, and 230 light-years away.
Telescopically, there’s lots taking place on Jupiter now; see Bob King’s Stormy Occasions on Jupiter. And observe the interaction of Jupiter with its moons and their shadows, and discover the transit occasions of Jupiter’s Nice Pink Spot, within the Celestial Calendar part of the September Sky & Telescope, web page 50.
Jupiter on August 23rd, imaged by Christopher Go at 11:28 UT. South right here is up. Darkish “eyeliner” outlines the north facet of the Pink Spot Hole. Simply above the Pink Spot is giant, pale Oval BA adopted on its decrease proper by a line of blackish turbulence. Broad, bluish festoon bases line the south fringe of the reddish, chaotic North Equatorial Belt. And under, discover the “white whale” of the brand new upwelling outbreak within the slim North Tropical Zone.
Expert, well-equipped amateurs like Go can seize extraordinary planetary element by even handed use of video-image stacking and processing. For comparability, here’s a Hubble picture of Jupiter taken two days later (with a NASA press launch about it). Full-res model, with distinction and coloration distinction boosted method up. Go makes use of a 14-inch scope on his condo balcony in Cebu Metropolis, Philippines. The Hubble is a fantastically refined 92-inch telescope above the environment!
Practically the identical face of Jupiter imaged by Go 21 days later, on September 13th. Quite a bit has modified. Oval BA and its turbulent wake have moved left (towards previous) with respect to the Pink Spot, and the Pink Spot’s “eyeliner” has damaged up. In the meantime far under, the North Tropical Zone outbreak has raced far to the left with respect to the Pink Spot and is trailing a really lengthy plume of combined vivid and darkish materials. “Jupiter could be very busy lately,” writes Go. What number of different adjustments can you discover?
Uranus (magnitude 5.7, in Aries) is pretty nicely up within the east by 10 or 11 p.m. daylight-saving time, about 12° east of Mars.
Neptune (magnitude 7.eight, in Aquarius) is increased within the south-southeast at the moment. It was at opposition on September 11th. Finder charts for Uranus and Neptune.
All descriptions that relate to your horizon — together with the phrases up, down, proper, and left — are written for the world’s mid-northern latitudes. Descriptions that additionally rely upon longitude (primarily Moon positions) are for North America.
Japanese Daylight Time, EDT, is Common Time (also referred to as UT, UTC, GMT, or Z time) minus four hours.
Need to develop into a greater astronomer? Study your method across the constellations. They’re the important thing to finding every part fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope.
That is an outside nature pastime. For an easy-to-use constellation information overlaying the entire night sky, use the massive month-to-month map within the heart of every concern of Sky & Telescope, the important journal of astronomy.
When you get a telescope, to place it to good use you will want an in depth, large-scale sky atlas (set of charts). The essential commonplace is the Pocket Sky Atlas (in both the unique or Jumbo Version), which exhibits stars to magnitude 7.6.
The Pocket Sky Atlas plots 30,796 stars to magnitude 7.6, and tons of of telescopic galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae amongst them. Proven right here is the Jumbo Version, in arduous covers and enlarged for simpler studying outside at evening. Pattern chart. Extra in regards to the latest new editions.
Subsequent up is the bigger and deeper Sky Atlas 2000.zero, plotting stars to magnitude eight.5; practically thrice as many. The following up, as soon as you realize your method round, are the even bigger Interstellarum atlas (stars to magnitude 9.5) or Uranometria 2000.zero (stars to magnitude 9.75). And skim methods to use sky charts with a telescope.
You may additionally desire a good deep-sky guidebook, equivalent to Sky Atlas 2000.zero Companion by Robust and Sinnott, or the larger (and illustrated) Night time Sky Observer’s Information by Kepple and Sanner.
Can a computerized telescope change charts? Not for freshmen, I do not assume, and never on mounts and tripods which can be lower than top-quality mechanically, which means heavy and costly. And as Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer say of their Yard Astronomer’s Information, “A full appreciation of the universe can not come with out creating the abilities to seek out issues within the sky and understanding how the sky works. This data comes solely by spending time underneath the celebrities with star maps in hand.”
Audio sky tour. Out underneath the night sky along with your
earbuds in place, hearken to Kelly Beatty’s month-to-month
podcast tour of the heavens above. It is free.
“The risks of not considering clearly are a lot higher now than ever earlier than. It is not that there is one thing new in our mind-set, it is that credulous and confused considering might be rather more deadly in methods it was by no means earlier than.”
— Carl Sagan, 1996
“Information are cussed issues.”
— John Adams, 1770