Harvest moon to rise above Arizona in September
With the seasons about to change once again in September, we have some great events to look for!
With the long and hot summer season about to come to a close, we look forward to cooler mornings and evenings.
The autumnal equinox will occur for us Sept. 23 at 12:50 a.m. Arizona time.
As you may know, this is the exact moment that the disk of the sun will dip below the equator on the celestial sphere.
That location is deep in the heart of the constellation Virgo.
An amazing array of objects will be visible during the month of September and we begin with the moon.
As the month opens up, we are coming off another new moon. The moon will then appear as a thin crescent low in the west after sunset, then moves on to first quarter Sept. 5.
Sky watchers should look towards the moon on the night of Sept. 6, as the moon passes Jupiter some 2 degrees above the giant planet.
Then, the moon will move on to the most famous of all full moons of the year, the annual harvest moon on the night of Sept. 13.
This is one full moon not to miss.
The harvest moon is one that rises ahead of sunset and the light of the moon helped farmers to gather crops in the early twilight time.
The moon normally rises some 50 minutes later, each evening, but at the time of the harvest moon that is shortened by 20 minutes on average.
Look for the rising harvest moon on Friday the 13th, at 6:49 p.m. local time. The moon will be spectacular, rising just to the right of due east.
This glowing pumpkin of an object will thrill even the most nonscience person in the crowd.
The moon then moves on to last quarter Sept. 21 and becomes a thin waning crescent in the predawn sky.
The new moon or “black moon,” occurs exactly a week later, with this being one of the best times of the month to view faint sky objects, like the constellations and the Milky Way.
There are some great planets to view in our September skies, too.
Look low to the south at sunset for Jupiter, still a great sight in a small telescope or binoculars.
Looking some 20 degrees to the left of Jupiter, we come to the elusive planet Saturn.
Saturn reveals an amazing ring system in a moderate sized telescope.
Mars has finally returned to solar conjunction since it put on an amazing opposition back in July 2018. Solar conjunction is on Sept. 2.
Venus will slowly return to the evening sky by early October.
The distant planet Neptune comes to opposition on the night of Sept. 10. Neptune is an ice giant planet located some 2.6 billion miles from Earth and was discovered Sept. 23, 1846.
Neptune appears as a tiny blue disk in the telescope and is now the most distant of the known major planets of the solar system.
Here is a finder chart for Neptune during the 2019 opposition season.
More details on how to find Neptune in the telescope.
To print your own monthly star chart, click here.
To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.
Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday morning at 3 a.m.