In September, you can not only see the Milky Way in the sky, but you can also see many planets. “Earth Night” is particularly suitable for observation.
FRANKFURT – If that’s not reason enough to look up at the starry sky: in September, the dark nights become noticeably longer again, and you can see the stars in the sky earlier again because darkness falls faster. One night that might be worth looking at the stars is September 15th “Earth Night”. The lights are scheduled to be turned off throughout the night, starting at ten o’clock in the evening at the latest, according to the initiative launched by the “Godfathers of the Night” non-profit organization.
“Earth Night” always takes place on the Friday of September, which is closest to the new moon night, so in 2023 it falls directly on the new moon. If too many lights are turned off, light pollution will significantly obscure the view of the stars. This is also the goal of the initiative, which aims to draw attention to the ever-increasing problem of light pollution.
Starry sky in September: dark nights and the Milky Way
Dark nights in September are also a good opportunity to observe the Milky Way. The milky band that gives our home galaxy its name stretches across the sky from northeast to south, with the center of the Milky Way in the constellation Sagittarius.
The summer constellations can still be seen, and the autumn constellations are emerging
The starry sky has changed little compared to August. Typical summer constellations such as the Swan, Lyre and Eagle, whose bright stars form the “Summer Triangle”, can still be seen in the sky, but the first autumn constellations are already appearing in the east. For example, the large Pegasus constellation can be seen in the east from the beginning of September. Three of Pegasus’ four main stars, along with the star Sirrah (the Andromeda constellation), form the Autumn Quadrant – a striking square constellation of four bright stars.
The constellation Pisces lies beneath Pegasus – and is difficult to see due to its faint stars. The same applies to the autumn constellations Aquarius and Capricorn, both of which consist of many faint stars and do not rise very high above the horizon.
Starry sky in August: Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn can be seen
Regarding the planets, not much has changed compared to the August sky: Venus, Jupiter and Saturn are more visible, while Mars is currently invisible. Mercury joins for a few days and is visible for a short time before sunrise. “The best opportunity is from September 22 to 27, in the morning from 6 a.m. to 6.30 a.m. above the eastern horizon,” explains Sven Melchert of the Friends of the Stars (VdS) association. fr.de from IPPEN.MEDIA. Melchert also has a tip for finding Mercury: “At a slightly higher level, the brighter Venus shows the way.”
Venus can be seen prominently as the morning star until the end of the year. It can be seen in the eastern sky in the hours before sunrise. This is not difficult because Venus is the brightest planet in the night sky. On September 19th, it shines brightest in the morning sky. Anyone observing Venus with a telescope can see a large, narrow crescent (11 percent luminance) at the beginning of September, and at the end of the month the crescent is smaller and wider with 36 percent luminance.
Jupiter and Saturn can be seen almost all night in September
In contrast to Venus and Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn can be seen in the sky almost all night. Jupiter is the brightest planet in the sky after the morning star. It rises earlier and earlier throughout September – on the first day of the month at 10:11 p.m., and on the last day of the month at 8:15 p.m. The ringed planet Saturn can already be seen in the sky at sunset. Its brightness decreases throughout September.
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The Moon will visit the two gas giants during the month – expert Melchert has two observing tips: “If observing Mercury is too early or too tedious, we recommend visiting the Moon near Jupiter on the evening of September 4th. On September 6th the Moon will be in Saturn.
With a little luck, you can see meteors in September
With a bit of luck, you can also see meteors in September, but you shouldn’t expect to spot as many meteors as in the maximum Perseid meteors in mid-August. Falling stars from Alpha Aurigids, Epsilon Perseids, and Piscids can only cause isolated meteors.
After there are two full moons in the month of August and the second so-called “blue moon” falls on August 31, the September full moon does not appear in the sky until the 29th of the month. The full moon for this month is traditionally called the “autumn moon” or “corn moon”. The full moon that occurs closest to the equinox is also called the harvest moon. In 2023, the sun crosses the celestial equator at 8:50 a.m. on September 23 – the day of the equinox and the beginning of the astronomical autumn season. (unpaid bill)
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