|Current Solar X-rays:
Current Geomagnetic Field:
September 6: Luna is new late in the day, invisible to us because it is positioned between the Earth and the sun, rising and setting with Sol. Tomorrow, the one percent sunlit moon stands above the planet Mars, too close to the sun for easy observation.
September 8: A razor-thin crescent moon is positioned five degrees above and slightly to the right of Mercury, 30 minutes after sundown in the west. Binoculars are recommended for Mercury. An unobscured western horizon is mandated.
September 9: Venus, the 11 percent lit crescent moon, and the bright star Spica of Virgo the Virgin all lie within the same binocular field of view, 45 minutes after sunset, low in the SW. Binoculars (for Spica) and a southwestern horizon free of obscurations are needed.
September 12: That bright luminary below and to the left of the crescent moon is Antares, the alpha star of Scorpius the Scorpion, a red supergiant near the end of its life. Their separation is 3-1/2 degrees, another nice starscape when viewed through binoculars.
September 13: The moon is at first quarter tonight, half on, half off with its light to the right. View Luna by 10 p.m.
September 14: The moon is now a waning gibbous, more than half lit. This evening finds it in the star pattern of Sagittarius, three degrees below the bright globular cluster M22, an aggregate of about 70,000 stars, 10,000 light years distant, in the general direction of the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. Binoculars will be necessary to spot this ancient globular because of moonlight. M22 will look like a faint, fuzzy, circular smudge of light above the moon. Keep the moon away from the field of view to be able to see the globular cluster more clearly. The best view will be about 90 minutes after sundown. Look south.
September 16: The fat waxing gibbous moon is positioned four degrees below Saturn, easily perceived within the same field of view of most binoculars, but also beautiful to behold with just the unaided eye. The best time to view is around 10 p.m. when the pair will be highest in the southern sky. The moon will only be about 30 degrees above the horizon. That bright “star” to the left is Jupiter.
September 17: At 10 p.m. you’ll find the moon below and to the right of magnificently bright Jupiter. The pair will be separated by just over six degrees, a tight fit for many binoculars, but doable. If you look critically at Jupiter with your binoculars, you might be able to spot the brightest Jovian moon, Ganymede, just to the left of the gas giant. Then look at the moon. You’ll see the dark maria (lunar seas) where huge asteroids struck nearly 3.9 billion years ago, erasing the moon’s past history. The craters formed from these deep impacts oozed darker lava from the moon’s interior for several hundred million years, inundating the impact basins. You’ll also observe the brighter, crater-saturated highlands which did not undergo these large-scale tumultuous events. Look for the splash marks left by smaller asteroids that struck the moon more “recently” in the last billion years or so. When you have had enough of the moon, lower your binoculars to see how the moon’s brilliance has influenced your vision. You’ll probably be blinded for a minute or so. We will continue to follow the moon in its waning cycle in two weeks. Ad Astra!
September 19: The moon this evening is near to Neptune, the last planet in our solar system.
September 20: Luna is completely illuminated tonight, a near perfect Harvest Moon, the name of the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. For a few days before and after this full moon, Luna will rise with the smallest difference in its time of rising. Also this evening, the projection of the Earth’s shadow called the umbra is positioned about five degrees above the full moon. If the moon were to intersect the umbra tonight, a lunar eclipse would occur. No eclipse happens; however, the full moon will rendezvous with Earth’s shadow on November 19 just after 2 a.m. for the start of a deep partial lunar eclipse that will last for nearly four hours.
September 23/24: The waning gibbous moon is equally distant from the planet Uranus on both of these evenings. On the 23rd, Uranus is seven degrees to the left of the moon and on the 24th, Uranus can be found six degrees to the moon’s right. Observe around 11 p.m. Look east to get a general location for this Greek creation god.
September 25: Five degrees above the moon is positioned the Pleiades or Seven Sisters, one of the brightest star clusters in all of the heavens. In a dark sky they usually look like a small hazy patch of light with a half dozen, faint, twinkling luminaries embedded within the nebulosity. Because of the nearness of the moon to the Pleiades, I would recommend using binoculars to see them or observe the Pleiades with averted or side vision to make them pop. Below the moon is the alpha (brightest) star of Taurus the Bull, Aldebaran. Observe around midnight. Look east.
September 26: The moon has now moved to the left of Aldebaran on its 27.3-day journey around the sky. By 5 a.m. the sky orientation places the moon above Aldebaran. Observe after 1 a.m. until dawn. Look east early; in the south, later.
September 28: At 5 a.m. the waning gibbous moon is high above the constellation of Orion the Hunter. Look mid-sky for the easily recognizable belt stars. Right to left, Mintaka, Alnilam, and Alnitak are arranged in a straight line and easily visible in the same binocular field of view. Later in the day, the moon will reach last quarter, half on, half off, with its light to the left.
September 30: The fat, waning crescent moon is below and to the right of Pollux, the brightest star of the Gemini Twins. Above Pollux sits his brother, Castor. Observe around 5:00 a.m. in the southeast.
October 3: A thin, waning “smiley” moon is positioned to the right of the alpha star of Leo the Lion, Regulus. Look east at 5:30 a.m.
October 6: The moon is new and invisible again because it is situated between the sun and the Earth. The lunar cycle begins anew.
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