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The September Night Sky

The sky is not a painting, it's a movie. Stars pulse, flare, some explode as supernova, asteroids whiz by the earth, new comets appear in the sky, Aurora sets the northern skies ablaze and meteors streak through Earth's atmosphere.

 Astronomy Picture of the Day

See below Hubble site Tonight's Sky, highlights of this months night sky movie with narration below. Click on photo below.

Autumn Begins

The September Equinox occurs at 10:29 pm EDT on September 22. This represents the instant the Sun crosses the celestial equator on its way south. By convention, it is considered the beginning of autumn in the northern hemisphere and of spring in the southern hemisphere.

The Full Moon for September

 The Full Corn Moon or Full Harvest Moon. This Septembers full moon’s name is attributed to Native Americans as it marked when corn was ready to be harvested. The September full moon is known the Harvest Moon, being the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox.

Lunar Phases

First Quarter Moon September 2 7:11 am EDT
Full Moon September 8 9:38 pm EDT
Last Quarter Moon September 15 10:05 pm EDT
New Moon September 24 2:14 am EDT

September  Lunar Highlights

 In the evening sky on the 27th, a waxing crescent Moon lies to the lower right of Saturn . On the 29th, the lunar crescent lies about 5° above Mars.

The Planets Visibility for September


Evening sky W

Mercury midmonth is at 0.3 magnitude and a diameter of 00'.08" at phase 46.76. Mercury appears as a half full disk. Look just after sunset low on the western horizon, Mercury is located in the constellation Virgo. On the 27th Mercury sets at 7:40 p.m. and will soon be lost in the Sun's glare.


Morning sky E

 Venus Shines brilliantly very low in the east in the September 27th pre-dawn morning sky rising at 6:22 a.m. Venus at is at -3.9 magnitude and a diameter of 00'.10" at phase 99.18. Venus is located in the constellation Virgo.


Evening sky SW

Mars sets at 9:01 p.m. on the 29th, located in the constellation Scorpius. The Moon this night of the 29th is 5 degrees above Mars. To find Mars look for a reddish object low in the southwest sky. Don't be confused with the reddish star Antares that will be only 3 degrees below Mars.

To see which part of the surface is visible at any time, check out the Mars Profiler at Sky & Telescope Magazine's web page.


 Morning sky E

Jupiter is at -1.9 magnitude and a diameter of 00'.33" located in the constellation Cancer the Crab and is  easily visible in the morning sky rising around 2:53 a.m. on the 29th. Jupiter is below M-44 at Angular separation: 07°52'20" from M-44.

A small telescope will easily reveal four of Jupiter's largest and brightest moons. Check out Sky & Telescope's Jupiter Moons Utility for other configurations. Sky and Telescope Red Spot Calculator  


Evening SW Sky


Saturn is at magnitude 0.6 and diameter 00'.16" on the 27th. Saturn is low in the southwest after sunset and sets at 9:01 p.m. Saturn is located in the constellation Libra. On the 27th the crescent Moon is around three degrees from Saturn. Through a small telescope Saturn will reveal the famous rings of the planet. Rings currently are 21.9 tilt. See: Saturn's moons locations


Evening Sky E

 Uranus at midmonth is at 5.7 magnitude and diameter 00'.04" rising 7:10 p.m. and located in the constellation Pisces. Uranus is near the meridian around 2:30 a.m. A moderate-sized telescope will show it as a green-gray disk. See finder charts: Sky & Telescope


Evening Sky SE

Neptune midmonth is at 7.8 magnitude and diameter 00'.02" rising 2:38 a.m. and is located in the constellation Aquarius. Neptune is near meridian at 12:
00 midnight. See finder charts:
Sky & Telescope


Bright Asteroids

On midmonth asteroid Vesta is at magnitude 7.8 and Asteroid Ceres  at magnitude 9.0 and are only 02°27'58" from each other. The asteroids are at opposition. The two asteroids are located in constellation Libra with both setting around 9:50 p.m.. They are both visible in binoculars See 2014 pdf finder charts: Chart

Dwarf Planets


 Pluto at midmonth is visible in the south after sunset  amid the stars of the Milky Way in the constellation Sagittarius. Pluto is at magnitude +14.1 and diameter 00'.00"  A large telescope is needed to see this distant object.


Comets Brighter than 8 Magnitude

C/2013V5 Oukaimeden 6.7 magnitude

Comet Oukaimeden on September 28th reaches perihelion. The comet becomes visible again forn northern hemisphere observers early October low in in southwest sky. Currently now lost in Sun's glare at sunset.

C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS) 7.3 Magnitude

Look for PANSTARRS to brighten in the predawn skies this September. The comet reached perihelion August 27th. The comet will be brightest in mid October. Now located in Hydra early morning sky rising September 27th at 3:46 a.m.

For more on current Comets and locations see: Seiichi Yoshida web site here.


There are no significant meteor showers in September.

ee: American Meteor Society and Meteors Online also NASA All Sky Network

Some local links below to Heavens Above satellite information website.

Satellites Visible from York

Satellites visible from Hanover

Satellites visible from Gettysburg

Satellites visible from Lancaster

Satellites visible from Baltimore

Satellites visible from Harrisburg

Also see: Spaceflight NASA

 The Sun

Real time solar wind dials are linked live to the ACE Spacecraft.

 If the dial on the left (Magnetic Field) has dipped below zero, the speed is high and the dial dynamic pressure is in the yellow/red, be alert for Aurora. Anytime the gauges are in the Red and the dial on the left, the Magnetic Field BZ has dipped to the yellow-red... Aurora will be occurring in our area. See link to solar wind gauge here: REAL TIME SOLAR WIND

See explanation of  solar wind dials below by clicking on photo of dials

Solar Wind Dials


Use your hand to find degrees

NASA Night Sky Network Planner

Free download. AstroPlanner  

Download a free starmap at: Skymaps

Make your own starmap at: Star Finder

Download a free Planetarium for your computer at: Stellarium or Hallo Northern Sky Stellarium has many extra features.

Your Sky - Fourmilab

Your night sky map on the internet

Sky & Telescope Interactive Sky Chart Register to use.

Sky Map