Space Talk w/Bradley: September guide to the night sky

Science

(WVNS) — Stormtracker 59 Meteorologist Bradley Wells is back with another look at the upcoming celestial events that will delight our region all month long. With the month of September upon us, those of us in the two Virginia’s will be treated to views of galaxies, asteroids, and the Harvest Moon. Remember to bookmark this page so you and your family can enjoy all the September night skies have to offer.

SEPTEMBER 6TH- NEW MOON: For those that love a dark sky for astrophotography or looking deep into the night, the new moon is a perfect time to see the faintest of stars. If the cooler nights and clear skies hold, this will be a great night to spend some time under the stars.

SEPTEMBER 8TH – CRESCENT MOON AND MERCURY: The closest planet to our sun, Mercury, will join our crescent moon in the low western skies just after sunset. The pair won’t be in the sky long after sunset, or about 7:30pm. Mercury will set about 30 minutes later and the moon shortly after that. If you use binoculars or a telescope to view Mercury, wait until the sun completely sets.

SEPTEMBER 11TH – BRIGHT ASTEROID: Between Mars and Jupiter lies the Asteroid Belt. Within this belt asteroid two Pallas will reach opposition on this night. This is when the asteroid is at its closest to the sun and the brightest for us on Earth. This peak brightness is just within levels in which backyard telescopes can see it. To find it, look towards the western edge of the constellation of Pisces.

SEPTEMBER 14TH – THE OTHER BLUE PLANET: Neptune reaches opposition tonight making its closest approach to Earth for the year. While still 2,690,000,000 (2.69 Billion) miles away, our solar systems other blue planet will be best viewed this night. For those with little to no light pollution and a telescope will get the best view of Neptune. For best viewing, head out around 9pm and look towards the northeastern side of the constellation Aquarius.

SEPTEMBER 17TH – RINGS, SPOTS, CRATERS & SPACE STATIONS: Our waxing moon will join Saturn and Jupiter this night giving backyard astronomers a trio of a treat. Look towards the southeastern sky after dusk and follow the trio along the southern sky. Saturn will set around 3:30am. The International Space Station will also make an appearance this night from 8:12 pm to 8:19 pm. Look towards the southwest skies at 8:12 pm and follow the ISS across the sky as it travels straight above you towards the northeast.

SEPTEMBER 20TH – HARVEST MOON: September’s full moon, known as the Harvest Moon, will rise this night. Traditionally known as the “Corn Moon” or “Barley Moon”, it often signals the time these plants are harvested. Native Americans of the Great Lakes referred to the September full moon as the “Leaves Turning” or “Leaves Falling” moon. A signal that the fall season was upon us. Coincidently, the first day of fall for 2021, is September 22nd.

SEPTEMBER 22ND- A NEW SEASON: Summer officially comes to an end at 3:21 pm on Wednesday. The Fall Equinox is the second time in a year where there is exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, it marks the first day of fall. From here until December 22nd, our nights become longer and our days become shorter.

SEPTEMBER 29TH – GALACTIC NEIGHBOR: The Andromeda Galaxy is a spiral galaxy 2.5 million light years away from our own Milky Way Galaxy. Our sister spiral galaxy becomes visible to the naked eye for those of us here on Earth this night. Look for the constellation Pegasus to find a smudge like light in the night sky. For those with a telescope or binoculars along with Andromeda, you’ll be able to see the Messier 32 galaxy and Messier 110 galaxy.

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