What We're Watching: September 2021
For many people, September means the end of the quarter and a particularly busy month. It’s easy to get caught up in the rush to tie up loose ends and hit your quarterly goals, but don’t forget to take some time to recharge! A great way to do that – grab your telescope or binoculars and head to your favorite viewing spot. Excellent planetary views are within your grasp this September!
September 7: New Moon
The moon won’t be visible in the night sky on the 7th. As a result, you won’t have moonlight detracting from your observations of planets and faraway galaxies.
You should expect to have excellent visibility of Venus (which is finally starting to make its way back into our sights now through the end of 2021) on this night. You’ll also be able to catch good views of Uranus in the very early hours of the morning of the 7th, and Jupiter the night of the 7th.
September 14: Neptune at Opposition
Planetary opposition simply refers to when a planet forms a straight line with the earth and the sun, with the earth in the center. These events produce some of the best viewing because of the planet’s close approach to earth and it’s fully illuminated face from the light of the sun.
The night of September 14th will be the best time to view and photograph Neptune. Keep in mind, this is an extremely distant planet that is not easily identifiable with the naked eye. You’ll need a strong telescope for it to appear as anything more than a blue dot. To find it, point your gaze towards the constellation of Aquarius, and then slightly below it.
September 14: Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation
Also on September 14th, you’ll find Mercury at its greatest eastern elongation. This will be one of the best times to view mercury as it will be at its greatest point of distance from the sun and much easier to spot. To find it, look low in the western sky just after sunset.
September 20: Full Moon
The moon will be fully illuminated on September 20th. It’s light will shine brightly across the night sky, so while the full moon itself is always a beautiful sight, the bright light might make it difficult to get a clear observation of your other targets.
Did you know - the Native American tribes called this September moon the Corn Moon, because it marked the time of year that corn was typically harvested.
September 22: September Equinox
Also known as the Fall Equinox, this event marks the first day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere. At 19:11 UTC, the sun will shine directly on the equator. There will be almost equal amounts of day and night throughout the world.
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