Astronomy Info & Events: September

Moon Phases

September 6: Full Moon (Full Corn Moon or Full Harvest Moon)

September 13: Last Quarter Moon

September 19: New Moon

September 27: First Quarter Moon

Special Events

September 2 & 3: Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve Star Party.  The star party will be at Miquelon Lake Provincial Park on Saturday Sept. 2 and at Elk Island National Park on Sunday Sept. 3, 2016. See http://www.beaverhills.ca/enjoy/events/.

September 4: Neptune at opposition

September 10: Conjunction of Mercury with the star Regulus at dawn.

September 11: Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (Edmonton Centre) meeting 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. in the IMAX theatre at the TELUS World of Science. Free to attend.

September 12: Occultation of the star Aldebaran by the Moon 7:00 a.m. local time.

September 19-24: Northern Prairie Star Party, at Black Nugget Lake near Tofield, AB. See http://edmontonrasc.com for details and registration.

September 22: Fall (Autumnal) Equinox occurs at exactly 2:02 p.m. MDT

Visible Planets

Mercury becomes visible early in the month low along the eastern horizon prior to sunrise.  It reaches its point of greatest western elongation on September 12 (18 degrees away from the rising Sun).  Look for a wonderful grouping and a dance of the planets Mercury, Mars and Venus this month in the eastern sky before sunrise.  The waning crescent Moon joins these planets on the mornings of September 17, 18 and 19.  Mercury slowly slips back in the glare of the rising Sun by the end of the month.

Venus is visible above the eastern horizon before sunrise during the month.  It is located within the constellation of Cancer, the crab, from start of the month until September 9, after which Venus moves into the adjacent constellation of Leo, the lion.  On the morning of September 2, using binoculars, look for Venus amidst the stars of the Beehive cluster (M44) in Cancer.  Venus will be seen by the waning crescent Moon on the mornings of September 17 and 18.  Venus is unmistakable as the brightest object (other than the Moon) in the predawn eastern sky.

Mars slowly moves out the glare of the rising Sun before sunrise early this month.  Look for fainter Mars close to the other morning planets Venus and Mercury all month long.  During the predawn hours of September 18 and 19 look for faint Mars near the waning crescent Moon.  On September 16 Mars and Mercury will have a very close conjunction (Mercury 0.06 degrees north of Mars).

Jupiter is located low in the west-southwest sky at sunset and is currently situated in the constellation of Virgo, the maiden, just above of the bright star, Spica.  On September 21 look for Jupiter low along the western horizon after sunset just south of the waxing crescent Moon.  By the end of the month Jupiter disappears into the glare of the setting Sun.

Saturn is located low in the southwestern sky after sunset residing within the lower east portion of the constellation of Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer. It can be found more easily by looking for it just above the spout of the “teapot” of the constellation of Sagittarius, the archer.  Look for Saturn just below the waxing crescent Moon on the evening of September 26.  Saturn’s rings are tilted by 26.7 degrees which provides for exceptional views of the ring system through a telescope.  Saturn will be a highlight of our September stargazing from the RASC Observatory.