September’s five visible Planets
~ Dazzling Jupiter, rising in the East at sunset and setting in the West at sunrise, at his closest to the Earth in 47 years
(with a pair of good binoculars we could even spot far away Uranus, close to Jupiter throughout the night) ~
~ Mercury, now Morning Star, makes his best appearance in the East by the second week of September ~
~ Venus shows off her brightest self between September 17 and October 4 in the West, after sunset, nearer to the horizon now ~
~ Mars is visible after sunset in the South West, slightly dimming as the month advances ~
~ Saturn is disappearing with the Sun at dusk, passing behind the Sun at the end of September. It can still be glimpsed during the first week of September low on the western horizon after sunset
MERCURY reached its Inferior Conjunction with the Sun on September 3, re-emerging as a Morning Star from September 9 until the end of the month. This will be the best dawn apparition of Mercury this year (magnitude -0.3). By mid-September Mercury will be about 15 degrees above the horizon before sunrise, reaching its greatest elongation around September 19.
To spot elusive Mercury look for the constellation Leo, it will appear very very close to the star Rho, ρ of Leo Constellation, on the foot of the lion, on September 16 and 17, as shown in the sky scape below taken around 5.15 on September 16.
Our Sister Planet will reach magnitude -4.8 by October 1, so bright in fact to be visible even before sunset. Her most dazzling apparition will occur between September 17 and October 4, becoming Stationary Retrograde on October 8. By October 19 Venus will disappear completely in the glow of the setting Sun, reaching her Inferior Conjunction with the Sun at the end of October. Venus will re-appear as the Morning Star in November.
The Evening Star’s incarnation of Venus represents a collective opportunity to become more self-reflective, acknowledging our contribution to any relationship issues we may be experiencing. The Goddess of Love is looking deeper into our hearts and show us the way to a less self-centered and more aware kind of loving.
MARS is still visible in the evening sky, looking toward the South West, slowly losing brightness as the month progresses (magnitude +1.5) and also inching closer to the horizon. It will remain in proximity to Venus throughout September.
JUPITER is at his most brilliant in September, reaching the maximum magnitude of -2.94. This is because he will be in opposition to the Sun (with Uranus) on September 21. From now to March 2011 Jupiter is making his closest passage to planet Earth in 47 years (since 1963). This phenomenon will not occur again for another 12 years (until 2022).
Jupiter will rise at sunset and set at sunrise. On September 18 our giant planet will be very close to Uranus, 0.8° away from each other. You could be able to spot Uranus with the help of a good pair of binoculars. Giant Uranus, spinning at right angle to everyone else, is a bluish/green star-like object,the brightest object in the vicinity of Jupiter.
Jupiter and Uranus became conjunct for the first time in nearly 14 years on June 9. Jupiter and Uranus meet cyclically (synodic cycle) every 13.7 years. This time they are playing a prolonged duet, though, meeting twice in 2010 (June 9 and September 22) and a third time on January 2, 2011. This is a rarer opportunity for the energies of these planets to blend for a sustained period, so exerting a greater overall influence over the affairs of the whole year. The last time Jupiter and Uranus met three times was in 1983, 27 years ago.
Animation of the triple conjunction of Jupiter-Uranus in 2010/11, from Martin J.Powell astronomical site, can be found HERE.
Observing the eastern sky after sunset we will be able to admire the beautiful Constellation of Pegasus, the flying horse, appearing as a great square just left (North) of the planet, as shown in this sky scape taken on September 15, around 9.30 pm.
Saturn is disappearing in the twilight glow after sunset in September. The ringed planet will move behind the Sun on September 30, becoming visible again a month after that as a Morning Star! Saturn can be glimpsed, close to the western horizon, during the first week of September.
All the Sky Snapshots have been generated using Stellarium, a wonderful Planetarium freeware software.
Information for the Sky Events has been gathered from these web sites: