By Duncan Lunan
The Moon was Full on September 2nd, and it will be New on September 17th.
The planet Mercury is too near the Sun to be visible in September.
At the beginning of September Venus is below Castor and Pollux in Gemini, very bright in the morning sky, and it passes Praesepe in Cancer on September 13th and 14th, with the Moon nearby on the 14th. By the end of the month Venus is in Leo, above and to the right of Regulus, the brightest star in Leo.
Mars is in Pisces, brighter than Saturn, not yet as bright as Jupiter, but getting near it in September. Mars rises at 8.30 p.m., back on our map, in September, near the Moon on the night of September 5-6th, and occulted by it as seen from South America. On September 9th it comes to its ‘stationary point’ in anticipation of opposition next month, and from then on it will move retrograde (east to west) against the stars as the Earth draws level with it.
New probes to Mars have successfully been launched by the USA, China and the United Arab Emirates, so there will be a great deal of activity when they arrive next year. Europe’s Exomars lander ‘Rosalind Franklin’, named after the pioneer of DNA crystallography, has been delayed due to problems caused by the coronavirus outbreak and will not now be launched until the next opposition between Earth and Mars, in two years’ time.
Jupiter sets soon after midnight in September. On 4-5th September the large satellite Europa will cross Jupiter’s disc, above the Great Red Spot, with Europa’s shadow following to the left. Jupiter comes to its stationary point on September 13th, after opposition in July, and the Moon appears near Jupiter on September 24th.
Saturn is close to Jupiter throughout this quarter, setting at 1.00 a.m. in September, and is at its stationary point on September 29th after its opposition, also in July. The Moon is near Saturn on September29th.
Uranus in Aries rises about 8.30 p.m. in September, moving retrograde (east to west) before its opposition to the Earth next month. Uranus is near the Moon on September 7th.
Neptune in Aquarius is in the sky all night in September, coming to opposition, due south at midnight GMT, on September 11th. Neptune is near the Moon on September 2nd and 30th.
Duncan Lunan’s latest book “From the Moon to the Stars”, a collection of space travel stories old and new relating to the Moon and Project Apollo, illustrated by Sydney Jordan, 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.