Friday, September 1, 2017

Look At The Sky: September

The Planets for September:
Mercury - Mercury is rising in favorable view by the 15th, about 5:45 a.m. local time just as dawn breaks.  Look for equally bright MARS just to the east of Mercury early in the month, but actually passing less than a fraction of a degree from the Red Planet on Sept. 16 - in LEO

Venus - our brightest planet will make its debut early this month, in eastern skies.  You can see Venus in dark skies as it rises about 4:30 a.m. local time at mid-month.  The planet continues to keep pace with the horizon all  month as it moves slowly eastward and appears rather stationary at any specific time from morning to morning. - in LEO

Mars - Now just east of slightly dimmer Mercury and slowly moving eastward to increase that distance every successive night in September. Compare the ruddy red color of Mars with the white color of Mercury.  SEE MERCURY above, very close pass on the 16th!  - in LEO

Jupiter - Now setting only minutes after the sun, our largest planet is embedded in strong twilight and will not be visible for several months; you can cross Jupiter off of your observing lists until winter and Spring 2017 when it will reappear in early morning dawn skies - in VIRGO

Saturn - Now nearly overhead just as dusk approaches, in bright skies overhead at 7 p.m. local time; look for the star ANTARES  just west this bright planet on the 8th; PLUTO is only a short distance to the EAST (left) and the distance between the two of them increases as the month progresses; setting around midnight this month and fairly unfavorable due to the low altitude. - in OPHIUCHUS

Uranus - distant planet Uranus rises about 9 p.m. local time and is south of overhead by dawn's fist light.  It shines at magnitude 5.9, bright enough to spot in good binoculars if one knows where to look; use a good planetarium sky program or GO TO telescope to locate this distant world; by sunrise it is high in dark skies and will show a faint, blue disk in large telescopes - in PISCES

Neptune - At OPPOSITION on Sept. 5 (see below) - look for faint Neptune in large telescopes at midmonth rising in the east as the sun sets. local time.(mag. 7.6). - in AQUARIUS

Pluto - at magnitude 14.1, our most distant planet is very low in southern skies, southwest of overhead about 8 p.m. local time; note that at mid-month this distant planet will appear just a couple of degrees to the right (west) of the familiar star pattern "The Teapot - only 12 inch and larger telescopes can spot this world visually.  - in SAGITTARIUS

METEOR SHOWERS for September 2017:

Observe when the moon does not interfere and attempt to observe AFTER midnight for most meteors to be seen!    However, as with all months and times during the year, observers should always be aware that new sporadic meteor showers can occur at anytime from seemingly unknown sources and radiants. 

The advent of crisper skies and cooler temperatures lure many sky watchers outdoors during September to view the impending autumn splendors of the Heavens.  While the day of September, worldwide, can be hot and unbearable, the nights can cool remarkably, resulting in some long glances and time spent among the cosmos.  Most of the meteor showers for September are modest, minor streams with few meteors; however some are unpredictable and thus the sky is worth monitoring during the times posted below!

September 1 - AURIGID meteors (??) - The moon will be first quarter and not set until around midnight.  The meteor stream "should be" highest in the sky; rising in the NE sky about end of dusk.  Note however that meteors from the Aurigid shower have ONLY been seen one year!  That was 1935 when about 30-34 meteors per hour were seen, all very bright and quite rapid as they transited across the sky.  Observations of this curious "one-time" (?) meteor shower, centered at about RA 05h 38m / DEC +42 degrees (in Auriga) are obviously very desired.  Get out after midnight and confirm this meteor shower for us!  Most are calling for this to be a good shower this year, but do plan to observe throughout the night of August 31 and morning of September 1!!

September 6  - LYNCID meteors - from the constellation of LYNX, the meteor shower is about as small and sparse as the constellation from which the radiant of these meteors appears to originate.  This was once a magnificent sky show, literally raining meteors through the sky; in 1037 and 1063 it was logged as "the rain of stars" by Korean sky watchers.  However, little of this seems to be left.  High in the sky during morning hours, look for the meteors coming from RA 06h 40m / DEC +58 degrees; the moon will be absent from the sky when this shower should be at its best, so observers will likely have a good opportunity to see if any revival of this meteor shower can be seen; note that the radiant does not rise until well after midnight, well after the moon has set.  Please report any significant sightings of Lyncids at once to the ASO!

September 7 - EPSILON PERSEID meteors - This is usually a fairly dependable group of meteors producing perhaps 12-15 meteors per hour very low in the NE sky about 10 p.m. when the shower should be its best.....moon sets at midnight, so plan to see what you can of this, and observe this shower pretty much before midnight since it is "circumpolar" and high in northern skies throughout the night for northern hemisphere observers....remember that there will still be some stray PERSEID meteors (see August calendar here on ASO) coming from near the same direction, so it is very easy to get these confused with the Epsilon Perseid shower unless one is very familiar with the sky.

September 14 - SEPT. TAURID METEORS - This is an "iffy" meteor shower, and most experts are calling for a poor showing, particularly with the full moon in the sky;   look for these meteors emanating from Taurus in the early morning hours of Sept. 14, which will be about midway from the eastern horizon to overhead after midnight.  About 13 members of this shower were confirmed in 2002, nearly three quarters of which were about 3rd magnitude; there are actually TWO radiants to this unusual meteor shower, both close together in Taurus;  a very poor year for these elusive meteors since the moon will be full and dominate the sky;  This shower rises in the east about midnight

September 21 - KAPPA AQUARID meteors - this meteor shower is also directly south of overhead (northern hemisphere) about 11 p.m. local time, and continues until the 22nd way past dawn. This is a poor year to observe this lesser meteor shower, since the third quarter moon will be in the sky after midnight.

September 23 - ALPHA AURIGID meteors - moonlight will be a factor in morning skies for this year's Alpha Aurigid meteors and hence even the faintest of these meteors are likely to be not seen in early morning hours; evening and around midnight are favored.  The radiant  rises in the NE sky about 8 p.m. local time and reaches nearly overhead about 5 a.m. very close to the position of this year's 3rd quarter moon and when the most meteors are usually seen.  These meteors are very fast and frequently leave fantastic trains of smoke in their wakes....Because the shower is in high northern skies, US observers can plan to view these high northern meteors all night long.

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