S E P T E M B E R S K Y W A T C H
by Maya del Mar
Mars is still and big bright, but its vista is shrinking fast, so watch it while you can. By the end of the month, it will be almost back to its relatively dim normal illumination. Mars is especially spectacular on the evenings of September 8 and 9, when you can view it together with the waxing moon in the southern sky. Mars rises now after sunset, and before midnight its high and clear in the south, with great visibility.
While youve got Mars in sight, pull out your binoculars, rest your viewing in a stable spot, and look for Uranus. With 7 x 50 binoculars, Uranus sits about one field of view northwest of Mars. It is visible in binoculars, and may look greenish.
Neptune, too, is visible with binoculars. It is in the upper part of the constellation of Capricorn. Look for a trio of objects. The two lower ones are brighter, and the upper, fainter one is Neptune. They form an equilateral triangle.
Bright Jupiter has come from behind the Sun, and is now is rising with the dawn. It is heralded by the great star Regulus in Leo, who rises a half hour before Jupiter.
Thirty minutes before sunrise on September 24 is another great sight. The thin crescent of the old balsamic moon sits next to Jupiter. Just below them is Mercury, now far enough from the Sun to be clearly visible.
If you look east about 30 minutes before sunrise on the mornings between September 15 and October 12, you can watch Mercury rise in the sky (and become more visible) until September 27, and then dip down again. This path represents Mercury moving retrograde and away from the Sun, and then turning direct, and approaching the Sun. It will be next year before we see it again in the morning sky.
Saturn rises about 2 a.m. local daylight time in the northeastern sky. By months end it will rise at midnight. Its a great sight about 4 a.m. among the stars of the Twins, Gemini, and to the left of Orion. Saturn is rising with the great constellations of winter.
In particular, during September dont miss Mercury, and the waning glory days of Mars. Happy viewing on these clear and mellow nights!