Disappearing Acts in September’s Skies

First, look for very bright Venus low in the East before dawn, getting higher all month.  I saw it for the first time this month looking out my front door at 5:45am.  See how late you can see it!

Headlines:

  • Find Jupiter hiding out behind the Sun
  • Bright star hides behind the Moon near midnight Friday/Saturday September 4/5.
  • Saturn in evening sky makes early exit
  • Moon hides in Earth’s Shadow in Prime Time Sunday, September 28th

Jupiter hides out behind the Sun – catch it before the 7th as the brightest object in the SOHO C3 solar observatory camera.  Go to http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/ and click on “The Sun Now” and then go to LASCO C3.  Jupiter will be the bright dot overpowering the detector pixels.

Jupiter is the bright dot to the right of center.  The bright 'wings' are because Jupiter is so bright it overflows the pixels into adjoining pixels.

Jupiter is the bright dot to the right of center. The bright ‘wings’ are because Jupiter is so bright it overflows the pixels into adjoining pixels.

One of the brightest stars in the sky, Aldebaran in Taurus the Bull, will be covered up by the bright edge of the last quarter Moon in the middle of the night on the 4th/5th. The Moon will be very low in the east-northeast just about the time it covers up Aldebaran at 11:56pm, and Aldebaran will pop out from behind the dark edge of the moon about 12:40am EDT on the 5th. Since our Moon has no appreciable atmosphere, one second the star won’t be there and suddenly it will be there at full brightness. Try not to blink or you’ll miss it!

Saturn is pretty low in the southwestern sky, making an early exit each evening. It’s still fun to see the rings in a telescope, even if they are bit fuzzier than last month because Saturn is lower and we are seeing it through more of our atmosphere. Mercury hangs lower in the evening twilight, playing hard-to-find, at its brightest early in the month before scooting past the Sun at the end of September.

In Prime Time, on Sunday, September 28th, is the last in the set of four-in-a-row total lunar eclipses. Pay attention – this will be the last total lunar eclipse for our area until January 2019.  The full Moon and the eclipse occur within an hour of the Moon’s closest approach for the month, so the Moon will be a bit larger for this eclipse. The Moon goes deeper into the earth’s shadow than the last lunar eclipse on April 4th, staying in the indirect glow of sunlight the atmosphere bends around the Earth from 10:11 to 11:23pm EDT. Plan to watch for fainter stars appearing as the Moon dims.

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