Autumn is quickly approaching and the nights are getting longer, darker and, unfortunately, colder. Stargazing in September 2018 might not be as comfortable as in the Summer, but with the right gear (blankets and hot chocolate are a must!) it will be just as exciting.
In September 2018 there are:
Constellations to spot
If you are already confident you know how to find Cepheus (house-shaped) and Cassiopeia (W-shaped), try to find their neighbor, constellation Andromeda. Look out for Lyra (its brightest star Vega is hard to miss) and Cygnus.
Planets to see
Did you know that you can spot most of the Solar System planets with a naked eye? They look just like stars, and with thousands of stars visible it is not a very easy job. This is how you can tell the difference between the two.
Look out for Venus and Jupiter after the sunset (as the month progresses they will be setting closer to the sunset). Spot Saturn and Mars a bit later on and find Mercury before sunrise (you will have the best chance in the beginning of the month)! Practice makes perfect!
Events to attend
Any clear night is good for stargazing, but if you prefer big company, organized activities and expert guidance, then you might want to attend one of the events below (or organize your own)!
- On Fri September 28 you can visit a family friendly Stargazing evening at Idle Valley (Retford, DN22 8SG) organized by Wildlife Trust Nottinghamshire. The event will take place from 6.30PM to 10PM and will include lots of activities, like chemistry lab and dry ice comet making demonstration. And, of course, stargazing!
- On Saturday September 29 you can visit Stargazing in the Meadow with Shropshire Astro (Bridgnorth, WV15 6QN). This event, organized by the National Trust, will take place from 7PM to 9PM and will include astronomy presentation and, if the sky is clear, starwatching! Yes, please!
- On the same day another event, Stargazing live with Sheffield Astronomical Society (Sheffield S10 5NF), will take place 7PM to 11PM in our inflatable planetarium’s hometown.
Please check the events websites for details.
Things to celebrate
Sunday September 23 is September Equinox. Equinox is not a particular day, but a particular moment when the center of the Sun crosses the celestial equator. This year it will occur at 02:54 London Time (01:54 UT). Equinox will mark the official start of Autumn in Northern Hemisphere and Spring in Southern Hemisphere. Although called “Equinox”, meaning equal night in Latin, the Sun will not set exactly 12 hours after the sunrise. That will happen in different time on different latitudes. We will have to wait until September 25 for the “equal day and night” (personally, I don’t mind).
Lunar phases to recognize
Do you know the names of all lunar phases? Can you tell the first quarter from the last one? Check yourself! Third quarter will occur on September 03. The New Moon on September 09 (it’s great for stargazing!) First Quarter will happen on September 17 and finally the Full Moon on September 25!
And meteor showers…
Unfortunately, there will be no major meteor showers in September 2018. But don’t worry, there will be lots of opportunities to count shooting stars later on this year.
Any questions? Let our space dome team know!