- Chris Baker
What's Up? September
Updated: Sep 2, 2020
Each month I highlight a few things you can easily spot in the night sky without the need for optical equipment.
It’s a bumper month for spotting planets with the naked eye and a number appear close to each other – a sight not to be missed.
Below is some information on each planet and then dates for your diary.
Venus is well placed for spotting this month for those early risers! It rises about 4 hours before sunrise and makes for a beautiful sight. If you do have binoculars- or good eyesight- then you will see it is phased, like our Moon. The phases will change during September -see if you can spot how it changes.
Mars is spectacular this month – it will overtake the mighty Jupiter in the brightness stakes during September. It glows a salmon pink in the evening sky. It rises in the east.
During the month it will grow in brightness and apparent size- growing by over 20% from the 1st to the 31st of the month.
On the 5th September it will be close to a waning 87% Moon. If you take a look at around 23:00 they will be just a few degrees apart.
Mars and the Moon close on the 5th September
Courtesy of Stellarium
Jupiter is a bright evening object in the southern sky - remaining quite low down for all of the month. You cannot miss this bright object. If you do have binoculars rest them against something solid to keep them steady and see how many Jovian moons you can spot. If you are lucky it will be four.
Look south in the evening sky to spot Jupiter
On the 24th and 25th September a gibbous Moon will be close to both Jupiter and Saturn- a beautiful sight.
Jupiter Saturn and the Moon on the 24th and 25th
Courtesy of Stellarium
Saturn is a majestic sight and can be seen throughout the month, albeit low down in the southern sky. The planet fades in brightness a little during the month so try to spot as early as you can. It appears close and east of Jupiter. See if you can spot them both this month!
Dates for your Diary
Here are a few dates to note down to see some spectacular sights.
Look east from 21:30 onwards to see the Moon and Mars close to each other as they rise
Then if you are up early on the Sunday morning 6th September you’ll see them even closer together as they are setting in the opposite sky.
You may be lucky to spot a Perseid meteor zip across the night sky - keep an eye out!
There is a chance you spot a very thin Moon rising above the north-eastern horizon at around 5:15.
Thursday 24th and Friday 25th September
Saturn, Jupiter and the Moon will be close together in the evening looking south.
Enjoy the night sky this month and let me know if you spot any of these sights.