By Duncan Lunan
The Moon will be New on September 28th, Full on the 14th, and on the night of 19/20th September, it will pass below the Pleiades Open Cluster in Taurus, passing between Castor and Pollux in Gemini on the 24th, and near the Praesepe cluster in Cancer on the 25th.
This year’s Autumn Equinox is on September 23rd and I shall be trying to photograph sunrise and sunset at the rebuilt Sighthill stone circle in Glasgow, to check if the marker stones are correctly placed.
The planets Mercury, Venus and Mars are not visible this month. Mercury is in superior conjunction on the far side of the Sun on the 4th, and Mars is in solar conjunction on the 2nd. Mars is near the Moon on the 28th, as will Mercury on the 29th, but neither they nor the Moon will be visible.
Jupiter in Ophiucus sets about 10.30 p.m., and appears near the Moon on the 5th.
Saturn is higher in the sky than Jupiter, within the ‘Teapot’ asterism in Sagittarius, and sets about 00.30 a.m., still moving westward after being passed by the Earth, but reaching its ‘stationary point’ on the 18th. The Moon is near Saturn on the 8th and will pass in front of it, as seen from Australia. By the end of September Saturn is setting around 9.30 p.m..
Uranus in Aries rises about 8.30 p.m., moving westward against the stars as it’s overtaken by the Earth before opposition in October. Uranus is five degrees north of the Moon on the 17th.
Neptune in Aquarius is in the sky all night long, at opposition, nearest to us for the year and due south at midnight GMT/UT, on September 10th. Before that, between September 3rd and 9th Neptune will be close to the red and green double star Phi Aquarii, though a telescope will be needed to appreciate the event. On September 6th Neptune will be only one arcminute, or half the apparent diameter of Jupiter, from the star. Neptune is 4.2° north of the Moon on the 13th.
At the Astronomers of the Future Club meeting on Thursday September 26th the guest speaker will be Bonnie Steves, Professor of Mathematical Astronomy at Glasgow Caledonian University, on ‘Extrasolar Planets – what we know, how we study them and what our explorations can tell us about the origin and evolution of our own Solar System’. The meeting will be from 19:15 to 21:00 hrs at the RSAS Barassie Works Club, 4 Shore Road, Troon, KA10 6AG. For more details, contact Alan Martin on 07947 331632.
Duncan Lunan’s new book “From the Moon to the Stars”, a collection of space travel stories old and new relating to the Moon and Project Apollo, is now available from the publishers at https://othersidebooks.wordpress.com, as well as on Amazon or through booksellers; details of that and his other books are on Duncan’s website, www.duncanlunan.com