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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.

Fall Begins

The September Equinox occurs at 4:02 pm EDT on September 22. The moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator on its way south. This marks 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 – September This full moon’s name is attributed to Native Americans because it marked when corn was supposed to be harvested. Most often, the September full moon is actually the Harvest Moon, which is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox. Courtesy Farmers Almanac.

Lunar Phase

Full Moon September 6 3:03 am EDT
Last Quarter Moon September 13 2:25 am EDT
New Moon September 20 1:30 am EDT
First Quarter Moon September 27 10:54 pm EDT


On morning of September 18, Venus Moon Mars and Mercury form a tight triangle; each planet is barely a degree from the thin 3.92% phase crescent Moon.

CZ-4B R/B Satellite at 3.7 magnitude will pass nearby the planets at around 5:57:30 am.

The Planets Visibility for September


Morning Sky E

 Mercury midmonth is in the morning sky rising at 5:20 am in the constellation Leo the Lion at -0.7 magnitude with a diameter 00°00'06" and Phase (%): 62.66.


Morning Sky E

Venus midmonth is in the morning sky Venus in Leo the Lion risings at 4:24 am. at -3.9 magnitude with a diameter 00°00'12" and Phase (%): 87.32. On the morning of September 20th Venus and the bright Star Regulus in Leo the Lion will be less than a half a degree apart at Angular separation: 00°36'26". See location below.


Morning Sky E

Mars midmonth is in the morning sky rising at 5:25 am in the constellation Leo the Lion at 1.8 magnitude with a diameter 00°00'04".  Looking ahead  to October 5th Venus and Mars are very close in morning sky around 6:00 am. The two planets appear less than a half a degree apart at Angular separation: 00°15'48". Look due east from a clear flat horizon to see this just before sunrise. Venus will be at a phase of %91.56.

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


Evening Sky WSW

Jupiter midmonth is at -1.7 magnitude with a diameter 00°00'31" located in the constellation Virgo setting at 8:34 pm. Jupiter location below. Jupiter is drawing closer to the evening glare of the sun as the evenings progress. A chance to see Jupiter's Great Red Spot and four of it's moons is on September 18th at 8:00 pm just before it sets. You will need a flat horizon to view this as Jupiter is very low on the western horizon.

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 - Morning Sky E- W

Saturn midmonth is at +0.5 magnitude with a diameter 00°00'16" located in the constellation Ophiuchus setting at at 11:33 am. Saturn's ring tilt is +27.0. Saturn is best viewed when highest in the sky after sunset. Look for a pale yellow/amber object. Saturn location below.

See: Saturn's moons locations 


Evening - Morning Sky Sky E - W

 Uranus midmonth is at 5.7 magnitude with a diameter 00°00'04" rising at 8:33 pm in the constellation Pisces. Uranus is best observed around 3:00 am when highest in the sky. A moderate-sized telescope will show it as a faint green-gray disk.

See: Sky and Telescope location PDF. Courtesy: Sky and Telescope


Evening - Morning ESE -WSW Sky

Neptune midmonth is at magnitude 7.8 with a diameter 00°00'.02" located in Aquarius. Neptune rises at 6:47 pm. and sets at 6:03 am. Neptune is best observed around 12:30 am when highest in the sky. Neptune was at opposition on September 5, closest approach to Earth.

See: Sky and Telescope location PDF. Courtesy: Sky and Telescope

Dwarf Planets


Evening - Morning SSE - WSW Sky

Pluto midmonth is at magnitude +14.2 and diameter 00°00'.00" setting at 1:26 am located in the constellation Sagittarius. Pluto will be highest in the sky around 8:40 pm.


No Comets Brighter than 8 magnitude.

  For more on current Comets and locations see: Sky & Telescope also Seiichi Yoshida web site here.


There are no significant major showers this month.

See: Listen to Meteors , American Meteor Society, 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


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