In this month's Sky Notes:

Planetary Skylights

08-Sep-2016 at 21:00h:
Mars, the Moon and Saturn

Venus hugs the West horizon all month, just visible above it for a short while after sunset.  On the 3rd Venus lies very close to a crescent moon, but you will require an unobstructed view to spot them in the bright twilight.

Further round in the SW the Moon then passes above Saturn on the 8th and a day later it lies above Mars, which by now has overtaken Saturn moving eastwards, keeping pace with the Sun.

Saturn continues to be visible all month, but its low altitude results in mediocre observations, and although the ring system will be quite apparent through a telescope seeing will be compromised by the turbulent air.

29-Sep-2016 at 06:00h:
Mercury and Crescent Moon

The red planet also remains visible throughout September, hardly seeming to alter its position above the horizon.  The ‘ruddy’ hue of Mars is quite evident to the naked eye, however its brightness does not equate to a meaningful telescopic view, the disk being disappointingly small.

At the end of the month look for elusive Mercury in the early morning sky, 45 minutes before sunrise.  You will locate it almost due east approximately 7 degrees above the horizon.  It is visible from Sept 20th to Oct 15th, the optimum dates being at the end of September.  A very slim crescent Moon lies off to the right of Mercury on the 29th.



Meteor Showers

There are no major noteworthy meteor showers in September, however you may spot a few Piscids which have two peaks: the 8th and the 21st.  Rates are low, only 6 or 7 per hour at best.  As with all meteor showers early morning viewing will be best.

Note on July's Perseid Meteor Storm

Well, I’m sure there were quite a few, just not seen by human eye, at least round these parts.  Both peak nights were clouded out until the early morning hours, 03:00h at least.  A few were spotted by Andi, but he keeps strange hours anyway.

(Andi says: seven decent meteors in about 10-15 minutes of gazing skyward on each of 11th/12th August... wasn't much after 01:30h, shuuurely!)

September 2016 Sky Charts

Click each image to see a full-size Sky Chart:

Looking North
Mid-September - 21:00h

Looking South
Mid-September - 21:00h

Looking East
Mid-September - 21:00h
Looking West
Mid-September - 21:00h
9th-September - 21:00h


Additional Image Credits:

  • Planets and Comets where not otherwise mentioned: NASA
  • Sky Charts: Stellarium Software