Southern Sky Watch

September Skies

This month the planetary action is in the evening skies. Mercury climbs high in the evening skies in the latter half of the month and has a close approach to the bright star Spica. Jupiter and Saturn are close and visible in the early evening skies. Mars climbs higher in the late evening skies. Venus is visible below Orion. There are several attractive massings with the Moon. Variable star Mira reaces peak brightness

Useful info for visitors from New Zealand, South Africa and South America.

September 5 Waning Moon near to Mars. September 6; Moon at Apogee. September 14; crescent Moon close to Venus. September 18; Moon at perigee. September 19; the crescent Moon, Mercury, and the bright star Spica form a triangle. September 20; Variable star Mira predicted to be at its brightest. September 22; Mercury, and the bright star Spica are at their closest. September 24; The waxing Moon, Jupiter and Saturn form a line in the evening sky. September 25; waxing Moon close to Jupiter. September 26; Jupiter, Saturn and waxing Moon form a line in the evening sky. Mars approaches Opposition.


Looking up at the stars is still a rewarding pursuit, despite the increasing light pollution in our major cities. The southern sky is full of interesting objects, many of which go unseen in the northern hemisphere. All you need for a good nights viewing is yourself, a good idea of where south and east are, and your hands. Optional extras are a small pair of binoculars, a torch with red cellophane taped over the business end and a note book. A great many tips for backyard astronomy may be found here, although many of them are more relevant to the northern hemisphere. A general article on amateur astronomy from New Scientist is here (may require subscription otherwise see the TASS site.).

This page is designed to give people a simple guide to the unaided eye sky. In the descriptions of planet and star positions, distances in the sky are given as "fingers width" and "hand span". This is the width of your hand (with all the fingers together as in making a "stop" sign, not bunched as a fist) or finger when extended a full arms length from you.


[updatedAstroblog Updated astronews and images at Astroblog!] [Weekly Sky ] [Astronomy Media Player] [Aurora Alert! Updated 28/8/18] [Coming events and Updates updated updated for 2020] [Out in Space ] [ The Moon] [Planets] [Mars Opposition] [Meteors] [ Comets ] [ Occultations ] [Eclipse] [Variable Stars ] [Stars] [Star Maps] [Using the Maps] [Iridium Flares and the International Space Station pass predictions (via Heavens Above)] [Links ] [updatedCharts, Books and Software for Astronomy] [Celestia scripts and add-ons Gliese 581 [Previous Months] [Feedback] [Ian's Astrophotography gallery Animation of Jupiter] [Email alert service] [Images of past aurora]

Spring is here! Spring brings the wattle flowers and a new round of interesting objects into view in the heavens. Scorpio and Sagittarius slowly leave our night skies to be replaced by Orion and its nebulae, and bright Sirius. The Southern Cross grazes the southern horizon before rising again in summer. It still gets very cold at night, so don't forget to rug up before doing any extended star watching. A blanket or rug to sit on is a good idea, as well as a thermos of your favorite hot beverage.


While these pages are primarily intended for the use of people observing in Australia, non-Australian Southern Hemisphere observers will find most of the information here applies to them. The star information will be most helpful, when you correct your location for latitude (see the Stars section for appropriate location information). Most Moon phase, planet, comet and asteroid information will be very similar to what will be seen in New Zealand, South Africa and South America. Countries close to the equator (eg Indonesia) will have somewhat different southern and northern views, but the eastern and western views should be similar enough to get a good idea of what is going on.

Occultations, eclipses and aurora are highly location dependent, and it would be best to get a local almanac for these events. If there is no local almanac available, email me and I might be able to help you. I do try and give general info for occultations and eclipses in the Oceania area of the Southern Hemisphere.

Return to Menu

Aurora Alert UPDATED 28/08/18: Despite solar maximum having passed, we are still getting occasional good auroral displays. August 26th 2018 saw an impressive display visible from NZ and Tasmania despite the full Moon. The last week of March 2017 saw some impressive aurora displays from Tasmania, Victoria, SA and WA. October 2016 saw a series of good but transient aurora in Tasmania and southern Victoria. July 2015 saw a massive storm seen as far north as mid NSW, again clouded out for large parts of Australia. 17-19/3/2015, the St. Patrick's Day aurora, massive storm seen as far north as Southern Queensland. Unfortunately clouded out for large parts of Australia. 26/2/2015, yet another good set of aurora were seen from Tasmania. 9/2/2015 There was a series of very good auroral events during February, some were seen in NSW, Victoria, SA and WA as well as Tasmania. Last year saw some nice events and a coronal mass ejection from an M class flare hit us square on on March 17 2013. Aurora were detected as far north as the QLD border, with some really nice events in Tasmania, and here are some images from that event. The Sun is now at solar minimum,and is rather quiet we June see more aurora in the near future.

Auroral images and descriptions from past geomagnetic storms are now at the auroral image web page.

We are now deep in solar minimum, and we can expect to see few aurora. There have been some good displays in Tasmania in the recent past (the St. Patrick's Day storm was a beauty, see as far north as NSW). Tasmania, King Island and Southern Victoria are the most likely places to see aurora. However, on September 24, 2005 there was a massive auroral storm seen as far as northern NSW (and the 22 February 2014 one was seen as far north as southern NSW). Naturally, the best views of any aurora will be away from the city and bright lights. Aurora occur when charged particles from the solar wind enter Earths outer atmosphere and interact with the oxygen and nitrogen atoms producing eerie displays of coloured lights. During solar maximum, which occurs every 11 years, the number and speed of the particles are higher, allowing them to penetrate the Earth's magnetic field at lower latitudes than normal. Observers in Tasmania are likely to see green glows or sheets of light in the southern sky. Observers in Southern Victoria are more likely to see a red glow in the southern sky, although more spectacular displays are possible.

The Astronomical Society of Tasmania has a webpage devoted to this phenomenon. The Australian IPS radio and space services covers Aurora and related phenomena in very great detail (too much if you don't know much about them) but has a nice education page. Flinders Uni also has real time magnetometer readings, however, this will probably not mean much to most people.

Aurora will generally follow solar flares by about 2 days, and a number of instruments are watching the sun for these outbursts. The solar minimum occurred in 2006 and persisted for some time. While sunspot numbers, and hence flare rates are increasing, sometimes months will go by without an alert, then you have three in a week. The space weather site at http://www.spaceweather.com gives notice of when solar winds likely to cause aurora will arrive. Alternatively, send an email to reynella@mira.net with "subscribe aurora alert" as the subject and I will send you an email alert of any likely auroral event (or other interesting sky phenomena). However, even a strong solar flare is no guarantee that you will be able to see aurora, but it does increase the probability. Still more alternatively, there are the facebook pages Aurora Australis Tasmania, Aurora Australis Tasmania NOW! and Aurora Australis all do discussions and alerts.

Return to Menu

Email alerts I try to update this page fairly regularly outside of the monthly postings. However sometimes things happen which I can't get in fast enough, or you forget to mark your calendar. If you would like to be alerted to or reminded of interesting astronomical or sky phenomena, send an email to reynella@internode.on.net with "subscribe aurora alert" as the subject. This is the old aurora alert list, but with auroras rare even though we are at solar maximum (except for the occasional humdinger, like the September 2005 auroral event), it is doing double duty. Astroblog will have images when possible of these events soon after.

Return to Menu

Coming events

Date Event
January
11 January 2020 Penumbral lunar eclipse in the morning, close to dawn.
21 January 2020 Crescent Moon and Mars close in the morning
23 January 2020 Crescent Moon and Jupiter close in the morning
27 January 2020 Venus and Neptune close
26 January 2020 Mercury close to the crescent moon in the evening twilight
28 January 2020 Venus close to the crescent moon in the evening
February
18 February 2020 Mars passes between the triffid and Lagoon Nebulae
19 February 2020 Waxing Moon close to Mars in the morning
20 February 2020 Waxing Moon extremely close to Jupiter in the morning
21 February 2020 Waxing Moon close to Saturn in the morning
27 February 2020 Waning Crescent Moon close to Venus
29 February 2020 Mars close to Globular cluster M22
March
1 March 2020 Mars still close to Globular cluster M22
8-9 March 2020 Venus close to Uranus (binocular only)
18 March 2020 Waning Crescent Moon forms a line with Mars, Jupiter and Saturn in the morning sky
19 March 2020 Crescent Moon between Mars and Jupiter and Saturn
20 March 2020 Earth at Equinox
21 March 2020 Mars very close to Jupiter
22 March 2020 Mercury close to the crescent Moon in the morning
29March 2020 Venus close to the crescent Moon in the evening
April
1 April 2020 Saturn close to Mars in the morning sky
3-4 April 2020 Venus passes through the Pleiades cluster
4 April 2020 Mercury close to Neptune
8 April 2020 Perigee Full Moon ("super" Moon), 3:10 am
15 April 2020 waning Moon close to Jupiter in the morning sky
16 April 2020 waning Moon close to Saturn in the morning sky
22 April 2020 Crescent Moon close to Mercury in the morning sky
26-27 April 2020 Crescent Moon near Venus in the evening sky
May
5 May 2020 Eta Aquariid meteor shower
12 May 2020 Moon between Jupiter and Saturn in evening sky
15-16 May 2020 Mars near the waning Moon
22 May 2020 Mercury and Venus close
24 May 2020 Thin crescent Moon near Venus
June
6 June 2020 Penumbral lunar eclipse early morning near dawn
8 June 2020 Moon and Jupiter close in evening
9 June 2020 waning Moon and Saturn close in evening
13 June 2020 Moon and Mars close in morning
19 June 2020 Thin crescent Moon and Venus close in the morning twilight
July
5 July 2020 Jupiter close to the moon
6 July 2020 Moon and Saturn close
11 July 2020 Moon and Mars close in evening
12 July 2020 Moon close to bright star Aldebaran
14 July 2020 Jupiter at Opposition
17 July 2020 Thin crescent Moon near Venus in the morning
21 July 2020 Saturn at Opposition
29 July 2020 Southern Delta Aquarids meteor shower
August
2 August 2020 Moon between Jupiter and Saturn
9 August 2020 Moon close to Mars
15-16 August 2020 Crescent Moon close to Venus
28 August 20 Asteroid Ceres at opposition (binoculars only)
29 August 2020 Moon between Jupiter and Saturn again
September
5-6 September 2020 Mars close to the Moon
14 September 2020 Venus and crescent Moon close in morning sky
19 September 2020 Crescent Moon and Mercury close forming triangle with Spica
20 September 2020 Variable star Mira at its brightest
22 September 2020 Mercury and bright star Spica very close
22 September 2020 Earth at Equinox
25 September 2020 Waxing Moon, Jupiter form a triangle with Saturn
30 September 2020 Venus close to bright star Regulus
October
2-3 October 2020 Mars and waning Moon close
3 October 2020 Venus and the bright star Regulus very close
14 October 2020 Venus and the crescent Moon close
14 October 2020 Mars at opposition
18 October 2020 Mercury and thin crescent Moon closeish in the evening twilight
21 October 2020 Orionid meteor shower
22 October 2020 Jupiter and waning Moon close
23 October 2020 Saturn and waning Moon close
31 October 2020 Blue Moon in WA.
November
1 November 2020 Apogee Full Moon (mini-Moon). In WA full Moon occurs before midnight but for all states apogee is on the early morning of the 1st.
13 November 2020 Thin crescent Moon close to Venus
14 November 2020 Thin crescent Moon close to Mercury
18 November 2020 Leonid Meteor Shower
19 November 2020 Crescent Moon and Jupiter close forming triangle with Saturn
24-25 November 2020 Waxing Moon close to Mars
30 November 2020 Penumbral Lunar eclipse, only seen from eastern states. Blue Moon of all states except WA. (see above)
December
13 December 2020 Venus and thin crescent Moon close
14 December 2020 Geminid Meteor shower (New Moon, good rates)
17 December 2020 Jupiter and Saturn spectacularly close with the thin crescent Moon close too.
21 December 2020 Jupiter and Saturn even more spectacularly close in a conjunction that will not be repeated for over a decade. The pair will easily be visible together in telescope eye pieces.
21 December 2020 Earth is at Solstice
23-24 December 2020 Waxing Moon close to Mars

Out in Space

Mars Curiosity Rover summer road trip has begun .

Mars Express spots long lived clouds.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter makes maps of ice on Mars.

The Juno mission sees mush balls and lightning.

Return to Menu

The Moon:

Current Phase of the Moon.
This is a JavaScript applet kindly supplied by Darren Osbourne. It shows the Moon as Southern Hemisphere viewers see it, and is upside down from the Northern Hemisphere perspective.

O Full moon on the 2nd
D Last quarter on the 10th
O New Moon is on the 17th
C| First quarter on the 24th

September 5 Waning Moon near to Mars. September 6; Moon at Apogee. September 14; crescent Moon close to Venus. September 18; Moon at perigee. September 19; the crescent Moon, Mercury, and the bright star Spica form a triangle. September 24; The waxing Moon, Jupiter and Saturn form a line in the evening sky. September 25; waxing Moon close to Jupiter. September 26; Jupiter, Saturn and waxing Moon form a line in the evening sky.

An interactive calendar of the Moon's phases.

A view of the phase of the Moon for any date from 1800 A.D. to 2199, US based, so that the Moon is upside down with respect to us. The image above is from this source.

The phases of the Moon have been linked in the popular imagination to activities as diverse as madness and menstruation. However, careful study has shown that there are no such links. This web page outlines how the Moon is unconnected with a wide range of human activities.

Return to Menu

Planets:

Finding planets, even with the directions below, can sometimes be difficult if you are unfamiliar with the sky. However, the Moon is very obvious, and can be a guide to location of planets. Not only that, the combination of the Moon and bright planet(s) is often very beautiful. Thus the guide below gives the dates when the planets and the Moon are close together.
evening sky, 22:00 pm

The evening sky facing east in Adelaide on Saturday September 5 at 22:00 ACDST, The waning Moon is close to Mars. (similar views will be seen Australia wide at the equivalent local time).

morning sky, 5:22 pm

The morning sky facing east in Adelaide on on Monday September 14 as seen from Adelaide at 5:22 ACST, 60 minutes before sunrise, Venus is close to the crescent Moon. (similar views will be seen Australia wide 60 minutes before sunrise)

evening sky, 19:05 pm

The evening sky facing west in Adelaide on Saturday September 19 at 19:05 ACDST 60 minutes after sunset, The thin crescent Moon is forms a triangle with Mercury and the bright star Spica. (similar views will be seen Australia wide at 60 minutes after sunset).

evening sky, 19:19 pm

The evening sky facing north-east in Adelaide on Saturday September 25 at 19:19 ACDST, 90 minutes after sunset.The waxing Moon is close to Jupiter with Saturn close by. (similar views will be seen Australia wide at the equivaent local time, 90 minutes after sunset).

Mercury emerges from the evening twilight this month. The best evening views this year will be late September/ early October. On the 1st Mercury Mercury is a hand-span above the western horizon half an hour after sunset. during the first half of the moth Mercury climbs towards the bright star Spica. By the 15th Mercury is one and a half hand-spans above the western horizon an hour after sunset. On the 19th the thin crescent Moon forms a triangle with Mecury and Spica. On the 22nd Mercury and Spica are less than half a finger-width apart. By the 30th Mercury is one and a half hand-spans above the western horizon an hour and a half after sunset when the sky is fully dark.

Venus begins to descend in the morning sky, and below Canis Minor and the bright star Procyon as it moved through Gemini, Cancer and into Leo. In even small telescopes Venus is a "half Moon" shape for most of the month, slowly becoming gibbous. On the 1st Venus is nearly two hand-spans above the eastern horizon an hour and a half before sunrise. Form the 12th to the 15th Venus is a binocular width from the Beehive cluster, you will need binoculars to see it though. On the 14th Venus and the crescent Moon are under a hand-span apart. By the 15th Venus is two hand-spans above the eastern horizon an hour before sunrise. On the 30th Venus is still nearly one and a half hand-spans above the eastern horizon an hour before sunrise.

Earth is at equinox on Tuesday, 22 September when day and night are roughly equal in duration.

Mars is high in the early morning sky and is now easily visible in the late evening sky. It brightens substantially this month ahead of Opposition next month. On the 1st Mars is rising around 10:00 pm local time and is just under seven hand-spans above the northern-western horizon an hour and a half before sunrise. On the evening of the 5th and the morning of the 6th the waning Moon is near Mars. On the 15th Mars is rising around 9:00pm local time and is highest in the sky due north at around 2:30 am local time. On the 30th Mars is rising around 7:30 pm local time and is highest in the sky due north at around 1:00 am local time.

Jupiter climbs higher in the evening sky while lowering in the morning sky. Jupiter was at opposition in July, when it is biggest and brightest as seen from Earth, but will be an excellent sight for some time to come. It is now quite high in the evening sky above Saturn. Jupiter is a decent telescopic object in the evening to early morning.

On the 1st Jupiter is rising around is nearly 11 hand-spans above the horizon an hour and a half after sunset, and is highest above the northern horizon around 9:00 pm local time. Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars from a line in the late evening sky. On the 15th Jupiter is 13 hand-spans above the horizon and hour and a half after sunset, and is highest above the northern horizon around 8:30 pm local time. On the 24th Jupiter, the Moon and Saturn form a line in the evening sky. On the 25th Jupiter and the Moon are just over a finger-with apart. On the 26th the lineup is Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon. On the 30th Jupiter is nearly 12 hand-spans above the horizon and hour and a half after sunset, and is highest above the northern horizon around 7:00 pm local time.

In either binoculars or a telescope Jupiter's Moons are always interesting. September 5 is particularly good.



Times are AEST, subtract 30 minutes for ACST and 3 hours for AWST. 
GRS = Great Red Spot. S = Shadow Transit, T = Transit

Jupiter Events from 01 Aug 2020 to 31 Aug 2020
Time (LMT) Sat Event 
Tue	1	Sep	18:17	Eur: Transit Ends                 S	
Tue	1	Sep	20:23	Eur: Shadow Transit Ends	
Wed	2	Sep	1:51	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Wed	2	Sep	21:42	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Thu	3	Sep	3:02	Io : Disappears into Occultation	
Fri	4	Sep	0:21	Io : Transit Begins               T	
Fri	4	Sep	1:26	Io : Shadow Transit Begins        ST	
Fri	4	Sep	2:38	Io : Transit Ends                 S	
Fri	4	Sep	3:29	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Fri	4	Sep	3:43	Io : Shadow Transit Ends	
Fri	4	Sep	21:29	Io : Disappears into Occultation	
Fri	4	Sep	23:21	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Sat	5	Sep	0:51	Io : Reappears from Eclipse	
Sat	5	Sep	18:49	Io : Transit Begins               T	
Sat	5	Sep	19:12	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Sat	5	Sep	19:55	Io : Shadow Transit Begins        ST	
Sat	5	Sep	20:06	Gan: Transit Begins               STT	
Sat	5	Sep	21:05	Io : Transit Ends                 ST	
Sat	5	Sep	22:12	Io : Shadow Transit Ends          T	
Sat	5	Sep	23:22	Cal: Disappears into Occultation  T	
Sat	5	Sep	23:27	Gan: Transit Ends	
Sun	6	Sep	0:32	Gan: Shadow Transit Begins        S	
Sun	6	Sep	3:26	Cal: Reappears from Occultation   S	
Sun	6	Sep	19:20	Io : Reappears from Eclipse	
Sun	6	Sep	23:45	Eur: Disappears into Occultation	
Mon	7	Sep	0:59	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Mon	7	Sep	20:51	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Tue	8	Sep	20:09	Eur: Shadow Transit Begins        ST	
Tue	8	Sep	20:42	Eur: Transit Ends                 S	
Tue	8	Sep	22:59	Eur: Shadow Transit Ends	
Wed	9	Sep	2:38	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Wed	9	Sep	22:29	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Thu	10	Sep	18:09	Eur: Reappears from Eclipse	
Thu	10	Sep	18:21	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Fri	11	Sep	2:11	Io : Transit Begins               T	
Fri	11	Sep	3:21	Io : Shadow Transit Begins        ST	
Fri	11	Sep	23:19	Io : Disappears into Occultation	
Sat	12	Sep	0:08	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Sat	12	Sep	2:46	Io : Reappears from Eclipse	
Sat	12	Sep	19:59	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Sat	12	Sep	20:39	Io : Transit Begins               T	
Sat	12	Sep	21:50	Io : Shadow Transit Begins        ST	
Sat	12	Sep	22:56	Io : Transit Ends                 S	
Sat	12	Sep	23:46	Gan: Transit Begins               ST	
Sun	13	Sep	0:07	Io : Shadow Transit Ends          T	
Sun	13	Sep	3:07	Gan: Transit Ends	
Sun	13	Sep	21:15	Io : Reappears from Eclipse	
Mon	14	Sep	1:47	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Mon	14	Sep	2:13	Eur: Disappears into Occultation	
Mon	14	Sep	18:36	Io : Shadow Transit Ends          S	
Mon	14	Sep	21:22	Cal: Shadow Transit Ends	
Mon	14	Sep	21:38	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Tue	15	Sep	20:21	Eur: Transit Begins               T	
Tue	15	Sep	22:46	Eur: Shadow Transit Begins        ST	
Tue	15	Sep	23:09	Eur: Transit Ends                 S	
Wed	16	Sep	1:36	Eur: Shadow Transit Ends	
Wed	16	Sep	18:36	Gan: Disappears into Eclipse	
Wed	16	Sep	22:02	Gan: Reappears from Eclipse	
Wed	16	Sep	23:17	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Thu	17	Sep	19:08	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Thu	17	Sep	20:46	Eur: Reappears from Eclipse	
Sat	19	Sep	0:55	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Sat	19	Sep	1:10	Io : Disappears into Occultation	
Sat	19	Sep	20:47	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Sat	19	Sep	22:31	Io : Transit Begins               T	
Sat	19	Sep	23:45	Io : Shadow Transit Begins        ST	
Sun	20	Sep	0:47	Io : Transit Ends                 S	
Sun	20	Sep	2:03	Io : Shadow Transit Ends	
Sun	20	Sep	19:38	Io : Disappears into Occultation	
Sun	20	Sep	23:10	Io : Reappears from Eclipse	
Mon	21	Sep	2:34	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Mon	21	Sep	19:16	Io : Transit Ends                 S	
Mon	21	Sep	20:31	Io : Shadow Transit Ends	
Mon	21	Sep	22:26	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Tue	22	Sep	20:04	Cal: Reappears from Occultation	
Tue	22	Sep	22:51	Eur: Transit Begins               T	
Wed	23	Sep	1:22	Eur: Shadow Transit Begins        ST	
Wed	23	Sep	1:39	Eur: Transit Ends                 S	
Wed	23	Sep	20:52	Gan: Reappears from Occultation	
Wed	23	Sep	22:36	Gan: Disappears into Eclipse	
Thu	24	Sep	0:04	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Thu	24	Sep	2:03	Gan: Reappears from Eclipse	
Thu	24	Sep	19:56	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Thu	24	Sep	23:23	Eur: Reappears from Eclipse	
Sat	26	Sep	1:43	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Sat	26	Sep	21:35	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Sun	27	Sep	0:24	Io : Transit Begins               T	
Sun	27	Sep	1:41	Io : Shadow Transit Begins        ST	
Sun	27	Sep	21:31	Io : Disappears into Occultation	
Mon	28	Sep	1:06	Io : Reappears from Eclipse	
Mon	28	Sep	18:52	Io : Transit Begins               T	
Mon	28	Sep	20:10	Io : Shadow Transit Begins        ST	
Mon	28	Sep	21:09	Io : Transit Ends                 S	
Mon	28	Sep	22:27	Io : Shadow Transit Ends	
Mon	28	Sep	23:13	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Tue	29	Sep	19:05	GRS: Crosses Central Meridian	
Tue	29	Sep	19:35	Io : Reappears from Eclipse	
Wed	30	Sep	1:23	Eur: Transit Begins               T	
Wed	30	Sep	21:23	Gan: Disappears into Occultation	
Wed	30	Sep	22:49	Cal: Transit Begins	



Saturn, like Jupiter, climbs higher above the evening sky while lowering in the morning sky. It is now high in the late evening sky below Jupiter. Saturn was opposition in July, when it was biggest and brightest as seen from Earth. Saturn is a decent telescopic object in the evening to early morning.

On September 1 Saturn is 10 hand-spans above the horizon and hour and a half after sunset, and is highest above the northern horizon around 9:30 pm local time. On September 15, Saturn is 13 hand-spans above the horizon an hour and a half after sunset, and is highest above the northern horizon around 8:30 pm local time. On the 24th Jupiter, the waxing Moon and Saturn form a line in the evening sky. On the 26th the lineup is Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon. By September 30, Saturn is still 13 hand-spans above the horizon an hour and a half after sunset, and is highest above the northern horizon around 7:30 pm local time pm local time.

Return to Menu

Iridium Flares, the International Space Station and other satellites

See this amazing site for images of the space station taken through a telescope.

The Iridium satellites have deorbited, However, other satellites do flares as well (bit more rarely) the visibility of Iridium flares is VERY dependent on observer position, so you need a prediction for your spot within about 30 km. Hence I'm referring you to a web site for predictions rather than doing it myself.


See the International Space Station at your Location. Courtesy of Heavens above. Choose your location from the drop down box

Or type in Your Latitude and Longitude in decimal format eg Darwin is -12.461 130.840 , to find your Lat Long go to this site.
Latitude: Longitude: City Time Zone:
Another site, JPASS, doesn't do Iridium flares, but is very cool and does the International Space Station, and many other satellites. However, although the output is flashy, it's harder to use than heavens above.

Return to Menu

Meteor showers:

Date        	Meteor Shower       ZHR  Illumination 
10/10/2020	Southern Tauirds		5    Last Quarter
21/10/2019 Orionids            20    First Quarter

The figure ZHR is zenithal hourly rate. This is the number of meteors that a single observer would see per hour if the shower's "point of origin", or radiant, were at the zenith and the sky were dark enough for 6.5-magnitude stars to be visible to the naked eye. Illumination gives an idea of how dark the sky is, the lower the figure, the darker the sky.

morning sky, 3:00 pm

Morning sky facing north-east at 3:00 pm AEDST on 22 October, the Orionid radiant is indicated with a star burst.

The Orionids are a worthwhile shower, best seen between 2-4 am, the radiant being just under Betelgueuse, the bright red star in Orion. This year the First Quarter Moon will not interfere. The best viewing is the mornings of the 21st and 22nd, when between 3-5 am under dark skies you should see about a meteor every 5 minutes.

Outside of the showers, you can still see sporadic meteors. Rates seen from the Southern Hemisphere are around 4 random meteors being seen per hour during the late morning hours and 1 per hour during the evening. The evening rates will be reduced during the times around the full Moon due to interference by the Moons light.

A good page describing meteor watching is at the Sky Publications site.

The Meteor Section of the Astronomical Society of Victoria has some good information on meteor watching too.

Learn how to take a meteor shower photograph.

A Cool Fact about meteor speeds

A good page on detecting meteors using home made radio-telescopes is here.

A good page describing meteor watching is at the Sky Publications site.

The Meteor Section of the Astronomical Society of Victoria has some good information on meteor watching too.

Learn how to take a meteor shower photograph.

A Cool Fact about meteor speeds

A good page on detecting meteors using home made radio-telescopes is here.

Return to Menu

Comets:

C/2020 F3 ( NEOWISE )became bright in the northern hemisphere after its close encounter with the sun but is now fading and is visible only in binoculars or telescopes.

A list of current comet ephemerides is at the MPC.

Return to Menu

Occultations:

No interesting naked-eye occultations this month.

 


Eclipse:

No significant eclipses this month.

Find local sunrise/sunset and twilight times for your city or location (courtesy of Heavens Above).
Use either the drop down box for the listed cities, or type in your latitude, longitude and city in the boxes below.

Type in Your Latitude and Longitude in decimal format eg -12.461 130.840 , to find your Lat Long go to this site.

Latitude: Longitude: City Time Zone:

 


Variable Stars:

While most stars seem to shine with a constant brightness, there are some that undergo regular, dramatic change in brightness. The classic variables are Mira and Algol. Algol is currently not visible. Mira will reach maximum on September 20 2020 and is now just at unaided eye visibility and will brighten over the month. The bright red star Betelgeuse in Orion has faded again but is now returned to its former brightness, worth watching for any more dips.

evening sky, 12:00 pm

Cetus at midnight AEST on 20 September , Mira is indicated by the circle.

Mira (omicron ceti), a star in the constellation of Cetus the whale, is a long period pulsating red giant and changes brightness from below naked eye visibility to a peak of round magnitude 2 (roughly as bright as beta Crucis in the Southern Cross) in around 330 days. Mira is predicted to peak this month on the 20th, so it is well worth watching its increase in brightness. Mira may be seen above the eastern horizon at midnight(see above diagram) about two hand-spans from Mars, making identification easy.

Return to Menu

Stars:

evening sky, 10:00 pm

The southern evening sky at 10:00 pm AEDST in Melbourne on September 1 (similar views will be seen from other cities at the equivalent local time eg 10:00 pm ACDST Adelaide, 9:00 pm AEST Brisbane).

All descriptions here are based on the view from Melbourne at 10.00 pm AEST (Australian Eastern Standard Time, daylight savings finished 5 September) on 1 September and assumes a fairly level horizon. Starset occurs progressively earlier each day, so these descriptions are valid for 9.00 pm on the 15th and 97.00pm AEST on the 30th Readers from other time zones should see roughly the same views at 10.00 pm local time. Corrections for cities other than Melbourne are given below.

How do I find east, west, north and south?

Facing east, the faint constellation of Erandius, the river, straddles the the horizon and meanders upwards and southwards to where brightest star, Achernar, points to the small Magellanic cloud.

To the left is Cetus, the whale. Beta Ceti is a modestly bright star six hand-spans above the horizon, the rest of Cetus is relatively faint. Mira, Omicron Ceti (O on the maps) is a variable star with a period of about 332 days.

Cetus also hosts a nearby sun like star. Tau Ceti is 11.4 light years away from earth, looking 10 hand-spans up from east and two to the left is magnitude 2 Deneb Kaitos, beta Ceti. Two hand-spans below and slightly to the left is eta Ceti, two hand-spans to the right of eta Ceti, forming a triangle with eta and beta, is Tau Ceti.

Five hand-spans to the left of Cetus is Pisces, a rather nondescript constellation.

Continuing on to the zenith we find bright Fomalhaut, alpha star of Piscis Austrinus. Next to Fomalhaut is Grus, the crane, with a distinctive, battered cross-like shape.

Looking westward from the zenith, about four hand-spans down and three to the right is the battered triangle of Capricornius, the Water Goat. Of interest as well is alpha Capricorni, the brightish star at top left hand corner of the triangle that is Capricorn. This is a naked eye double star.

About mid-sky, directly west is the distinctive "teapot" shape of Sagittarius, the archer. The "teapot" is upside down, the "spout" is pointing south-west, its "handle" north-east, and its "lid" points down to the right (north-eastern horizon). This constellations panoply of clusters and nebula are still easily seen.

M24, an open cluster about two finger-widths to the right and slightly down from the "lid" of the teapot should be visible to the naked eye, just above this and slightly to the left by about a hand span is a number of open clusters and a patch of luminosity that marks the lagoon nebula. M22, a globular cluster, is close to the lid (between and about a finger-widths left of the two stars that make the bottom of the lid), should be visible as a dim, fuzzy star on a dark night. Between these clusters and the "lid" itself runs the Great Sagittarius Starcloud. The center of our galaxy lies in Sagittarius, and on a dark night, the traceries of the Milky Way and its dust clouds are particularly beautiful. A high definition map of Sagittarius can be found here.

Continuing on west, the rambling constellation of Ophiuchus occupies the space between Sagittarius and the western horizon.

Directly to the left of Ophiuchus the distinctive "hook" shape of Scorpio, the scorpion, stretches down towards the western horizon. Going up from the south-western horizon by about one and a half hand-spans you will see six bright stars forming a T, with the tail of the "T" nearly perpendicular to the horizon and a curved "tail" of stars. The bright red giant star Antares (Alpha Scorpius, the middle star in the three stars forming the tail of the T) is quite prominent. The area around Scorpio is quite rewarding in binoculars, and there is a small but pretty globular cluster about one finger-width above and to the north of Antares (between Antares and the leading star of the tail of the T). It can be hard to see in city conditions, and will be especially difficult to see this close to the horizon. A high definition map of Scorpio is here. Just before the point where the tail curves around is a series of star clusters that make up the so-called false comet. The illusion of a comet is quite strong in small binoculars as well, but in stronger binoculars the clusters are quite clear.

Returning to the Zenith and working towards the northern horizon. 6 hand-spans down from the zenith is the faint but rambling constellation of Aquarius.

12 hand-spans down from the Zenith (and six above the northern horizon) is the start of the constellation Pegasus, the winged horse. The distinctive box shape of the main constellation lies around three hand-spans to the right of due north.

At the same level as Pegasus, but seven hand-spans to the left is the three bright stars that mark Aquila, the Eagle, with the brightest, white Altair, being in the center.

Continuing down towards the northern horizon, the next bright star is just a hand-span above the horizon, and three hand-spans to the left of due north. This is Deneb, alpha star of Cygnus, the swan. The rest of the constellation forms a wide but distinctive inverted cross above Deneb with the long axis pointing west, almost parallel to the horizon.

Now return to the zenith and go South. Directly south below Grus brings you to the edge of the dim constellation of Tucana, the Toucan. About four hand-spans below the zenith, directly on due north, is Alpha Tucana. Just below Tucana and about a hand-span and a half to the left is the Small Magellanic cloud, the second largest of the dwarf satellite galaxies to the Milky Way. This feature is best viewed on a dark night, away from the city. In this nebulosity is what looks to be a fuzzy star, this is 47 Tucana (marked 104 on the map), a spectacular globular cluster that is very nice through binoculars.

To the right of alpha Tucana by around three hand-spans is Peacock, alpha Pavonis, is a reasonably bright magnitude 2 star that heads the large, but dim, constellation of Pavo the Peacock. Delta Pavonis, about two hand-spans below and one to the left of alpha Pavonis, is one of the handful of sun-like stars within 20 light years of Earth that might have terrestrial planets in its habitable zone.

To the right of and some what below Delta Pavonis by about 4 hand-spans is the boxy shape of Ara, the Altar.

To the left of alpha Tucana by 5 hand-spans is Ankaa, alpha Phoenicis, of the constellation of the Phoenix, another relatively nondescript constellation.

To the left of alpha Tucana by 5 hand-spans and down by about one is bright Achernar, alpha Erandius.

Continuing directly down from alpha Tucana by four hand-spans is Octans, the octant (a navigating instrument the was the forerunner of the sextant). Octans houses the south celestial pole, and the faint Sigma Octanis, the South Polar star, which is the southern equivalent of Polaris. At magnitude 5.5 you will be stretched to see it under city conditions, but it is six hand-spans directly below alpha Tucana, forming the apex of an inverted triangle with two other faint stars (tau and chi Octanis).

Directly below Octans by around three hand-spans is the faint Chameleon, a narrow "kite" of four stars with the long axis parallel to the horizon. To the left of Chameleon by a little over 3 hand-spans is the extended nebulosity of the Large Magellanic cloud, the largest of the dwarf satellite galaxies. Binoculars will reveal a rather attractive nebula near it, the Tarantula nebula.

To the right of Chameleon by around five hand-spans are the bright, distinctive alpha and beta Centauri, the so called "pointers", 4 hand-spans from the south-west horizon, with alpha being the yellow star which is furthest from the horizon, and beta the blue white star below. Between these stars and Chameleon lies the faint constellation Musca the fly. Between the pointers and Pavo lie the dim triangular constellations of Triangulum and Circinus (the compass). Most of the rest of Centarus, the Centaur, is too close to, or below, the Horizon to be seen properly.

Alpha Centauri is the closest star to our sun at around 4 light years. However, recent measurements with the Hippacaros satellite put the system 300 million kilometers further away than previously thought. Alpha centauri is actually a triple star, consisting of two sun-like stars and a red dwarf, Proxima centauri, which is the closest of the triple stars to earth.

Returning to alpha Centauri, following a line south through the "pointers" brings you to the Southern Cross, two hand-spans below and to the left the pointers (one and a half hand-spans from beta Centauri to beta Crucis) and two hand-spans above the horizon at about the 5 o'clock position on a clock. A high definition map of Centaurus and Crux is here.

The Southern Cross is, as expected, a cross shaped formation with Acrux (alpha Crucis) and gamma Crucis forming the long axis of the cross (pointing down to the south-west, with bright Acrux on the end of the axis away from the horizon). Beta and delta Crucis, now nearly horizontal, form the cross piece of the cross. Just to the right Acrux is the coal sack. This dark area against the glow of the milky way represents a large dust cloud and is usually clearly visible in dark skies, but will be hard to see this close to the horizon. The Jewel box in the Cross is a small open cluster just above Beta Crucis. It is quite beautiful, but requires strong binoculars or a small telescope to see properly.

Just on the southern horizon, almost due south is Carina (the keel of the former constellation Argo Navis). Its position makes viewing the many spectacular clusters in this constellation difficult or impossible. However, bright Canopus is now two hand-spans from the south-eastern horizon, almost directly below the large Magellanic cloud, and will continue to rise in the following weeks

Return to Menu

Sky Maps

How to use the maps

      map viewsky view

Comparison of a section of a skymap showing the Southern Cross (Crux) and pointers, with the appearance of the night sky. The map and sky are for September 1 at 10.00 pm, facing south. Both show approximately 30 degrees (5 hand-spans) of sky just above the horizon

The maps look a little busy, as they cover all sky from horizon to zenith. The grid lines are navigational helpers; each horizontal or vertical line covers 30 degrees of arc (the gridlines in the illustration show 15 degrees of arc), which is roughly five hand-spans (where a hand-span is the width of your hand, held flat light a "stop" sign at arms length). As you can see from the way the lines bunch up. The map is a little distorted, due to trying to project a spherical surface on a flat surface. The horizon is the lowest curved line on the map (for technical software reasons I can't block things out below the Horizon). Constellations are linked by lines and their names are in italics. Stars are shown as circles of varying size, the bigger the circle the brighter the star. The stars are named with their Bayer letter (eg a - alpha, the brightest star in a constellation, a Crucis is the brightest star in Crux). Variable stars are shown as hollow circles, double stars are marked with a line (eg a, b and g Crucis are all double stars, that look quite beautiful in a small telescope). Clusters and Nebula brighter than magnitude 6.0 are marked as broken circles (eg. the Jewel box cluster next to b Crucis above which is best viewed in binoculars or a telescope) and squares respectively. To find Crux for example, locate Crux on the appropriate map (eg. see the illustration above). Holding the Map, face either east or west (depending on the map), then use the grid lines to determine how far over and up you should look, then look for the Crux pattern in that part of the Sky.

PDF Maps

High Resolution PDF files can be obtained for the eastern (110 Kb) and the western (110 Kb) horizon maps.

The Zenith Map (110 Kb) shows you the whole sky. You will need to face the one of the compass points, then hold the map with the appropriate compass point on the map at the bottom of the page.

You will need a PDF viewer such as Adobe Acrobat or GhostView to view and print them. They look slightly worse on-screen than the PNG files, but print much better and come with legends.

Return to Menu

[ December Skies] [ January Skies] [ February Skies ] [ March Skies] [ April Skies] [ May Skies] [ June Skies] [ July Skies] [ August Skies]
Return to Menu

Cheers! And good star gazing!


updated

Ian's Astrophotography Gallery

Some of the photographs/images I have taken in recent years of astronomical phenomena that may be of interest.

Return to Menu

Links

Societies: Australian Resources: Australian Planetariums: updated Astronomy for Kids International Resources: Stunning sites: Useful programs:
Return to Menu

Charts, Books and Software for Astronomy

Stellarium, the free photorealistic sky chart that I use for my general charts, is now available in a web version, it is not as versatile as the desktop version, but handy if you are out and about. it Runs under a variety of browsers on standard PC's, Chromebooks and iPads. https://stellarium-web.org/

The is also a mobile Stellarium version, but it costs money (aroun $13, not much, but still).

If you would like to have charts available all the time, rather than relying on mine, for between $2-$20 you can pick up a planisphere from a newsagent or bookshop (or for a bit more you can get fancy ones from Australian Geographic, the ABC shop or the other Australian Geographic look alike shop, or the Wilderness Society, or even a binocular/ optical store). The planisphere won't give you position of the planets, so you will need to get the planet rise/set times. These can be found in most serious newspapers (the Age, the Australian, SMH etc. The Australian is probably the best bet for budding amateurs). The combination of planisphere and rise/set times is the best value for beginners though, if you are not too worried about identifying star clusters in your binoculars.

Touring the Universe through Binoculars Atlas is now freeware http://www.philharrington.net/tuba.htm it can print observing charts, but has a few annoying quirks. These include having no horizon line, and moving about is a bit irritating.

I use a combination of a 1962 star chart, the Australian Astronomy 2020 almanac and SkyMap Pro 11.0 . I highly recommend the Australian Astronomy 2020 almanac. It is more helpful for planetary/comet/asteroidal observations and eclipses than for double stars, clusters galaxies etc, but is an excellent resource for Australian observers and anyone who would like to seriously follow the planets in Australia should have this almanac. It has easy to follow month-by-month summary information, as well as detailed charts, tables and whole sky maps. It is easily navigated. The Almanac is often in big bookstores or optical shops, or email info@quasarastronomy.com.au to purchase a copy directly for those outside major population centres. The Australian Astronomy almanac comes out in around November for the following year, and is now approx $30.

Sky and Telescope now also do an Australian version of their magazine.

For detailed chart drawing and timing of events, as well as satellite track predictions I feed the information from the almanac into the $150 AUD SkyMap Pro 11.0 , planetarium program. This is a very handy program which prints maps of every possible orientation and scale. The maps on this page are produced by SkyMap. An update to SkyMap 12.0 which handles Windows 10 is now available.

A shareware version of SkyMap that runs on windows 3.x, and win95 can be found here http://www.winsite.com/info/pc/win3/desktop/skymp21a.zip this is approximately 640 Kb zipped.

A shareware version of the win95 only version 5.0 is here http://www.download.net.au/cgi-bin/dl?13607

Other highly recommended Sky charting packages (win95/98/2000/XP/Win7-10 sorry) are:
Cartes du Ciel at https://www.ap-i.net/skychart//en/start (FREE) a bit messy to install but very good.
Stellarium at
http://stellarium.sourceforge.net/ (FREE) stunning photorealistic program, but requires a grunty PC.
Celestron Sky Portal https://www.celestron.com/pages/skyportal-mobile-app is a good free mobile phone/tablet app
Sky Safari https://skysafariastronomy.com/ is another nice mobile astronomy app, but the Apple app store want to sell me Skysafari 6 rather than the freeware Sky Safari 5 (currently available on Google play).
TheSkyVarious packages from $49 US to $249 US
Stary Night various versions from $50 US for the basic pack (10 day trial of the basic pack at http://www.siennasoft.com/english/downloads.shtml) up to eye watering $250 USD versions.
Earth Centered Universe $88 AUD (shareware version at http://www.nova-astro.com/)
On the other hand a standard Sky Atlas for serious observing (much handier than carting a computer with you) such as Norton's Star Atlas can range from $35 to $90.

In these days of hand-held devices (smart phones and tablets), there is a plethora of sky charting apps you can take into the field with you. I use GoogleSky for android and a cut down version of Stellarium for iPad, my most used hand-held app is Heavens Above for Android, for watching Iridium flares and ISS passes. This is one app that has changed my astronomical life. There are many more, many free or less than 1 AUD to download. Celestron has a great free planetarium app (although big at 154 Mb) for Android, iPhone and iPad, SkyPortal (see links above).

This is not meant to be a product endorsement of any kind (outside of the Australian Astronomy 2020 almanac. For any budding astronomers out there, it is fantastic value and no, I don't have any commercial interest in it, but I did win bronze in their website Olympics).

Return to Menu

Link to the Lab's 'In Space' gateway Link to the Lab's home page
Return to Menu

This page is provided by Ian Musgrave and is © copyright 2020 Ian Musgrave, except the "Southern Sky Watch" logo, as well as any other ABC logo used on this page, is © copyright of the ABC. Sky maps are generated with SkyMap Pro 11.0 .

This page can be used freely for any non-commercial purpose but please attribute it correctly. However, see the disclaimer.

* Email: reynella@internode.on.net e-mail Ian with any suggestions
Created: Wednesday, 1 April 1998, 11:22:13 PM
Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 September 2020, 11:30:13 PM


Locations of visitors to this page
Where are visitors to this page?
(Auto-update daily since 27-August-05)
Return to Menu