September 2012 – the dark skies are back!

It’s September and you’re no doubt itching to get out and look at the wonders of the night sky.

Click to embiggen any of the images below.

The Phases of the Moon

Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong – 5th August 1930 to 25th August 2012

Sad news that the first human being to walk on the Moon passed away in August, aged 82. Neil Armstrong might have shyed away from the limelight following his giant leap for Mankind in 1969,  but he will not be forgotten by the history books. Next time you’re looking at the Moon be sure to give it a little wink as you think about the great achievements that Armstrong was part of.


Last Quarter: 8th September, 13:15
New Moon: 16th September, 02:11
First Quarter: 22nd September, 19:41
Full Moon: 30th September, 03:19

(times above are in Universal Time, UT)

 

The Planets you can see

Jupiter appears to the East in the constellation of Taurus the bull, close to the bright star that forms the bull’s eye, Aldebaron (check it out in the image further down this post). It remains in the sky till dawn having risen in the sky by around midnight. Venus is also visible through the night-time for the first few hours before dawn.

Mercury is too close to the Sun to be visible to us this month. And although Saturn and Mars are at their highest during the day too, you might just get a glimpse of them to the Western horizon around sunset.

 

September views of midnight sky from Glasgow, UK

Here’s some views of the midnight sky on 16th September 2012 from Glasgow, UK. The images are made using Stellarium.

The view looking South from Glasgow around midnight on 16th Sep 2012

The view looking South from Glasgow around midnight on 16th Sep 2012. Made using Stellarium.

The view looking East from Glasgow around midnight on 16th Sep 2012.

The view looking East from Glasgow around midnight on 16th Sep 2012. Made using Stellarium.

The view looking North from Glasgow around midnight on 16th Sep 2012.

The view looking North from Glasgow around midnight on 16th Sep 2012. Made using Stellarium.

The view looking West from Glasgow around midnight on 16th Sep 2012.

The view looking West from Glasgow around midnight on 16th Sep 2012. Made using Stellarium.

 

The constellation of Auriga

Home to the ‘Goat Star’, Capella, the constellation of Auriga is best viewed over the winter months in the Northern Hemisphere. Capella is actually a 4-star system some 43 light years from Earth. It is amongst the brightest of stars in our night sky so very easy to spot.

Amongst the constellations surrounding Auriga are Taurus and Perseus. The constellation is depecited as a charioteer carrying a goat over his left shoulder and appeared in Ptolemy’s Almagest.

This September, look out to the East around midnight on a clear night and you’ll see Jupiter in the horns of Taurus, and close-by Perseus and Auriga. Gorgeous!

Auriga, Perseus and Taurus during September 2012.

Auriga, Perseus and Taurus during September 2012. Made using Stellarium.

 

What else is happening in space?

Exploring Mars for Signs of Life – Curiosity

Could Mars have once harboured life? Curiosity is on the red planet after a successful landing back in August and getting familiar with its surroundings in a bid to find out once and for all.

 

Dawn moves on to next asteroid

Vesta as viewed by Dawn

Vesta as viewed by Dawn. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Somewhat overshadowed by Curiosity is the spacecraft Dawn which has been in orbit around the asteroid, Vesta. The mission seeks to study two of the largest asteroids that lie in the belt between Mars and Jupiter to better understand the early evolution of our solar system. The craft has now left Vesta and will head towards Ceres.

Other things you might want to check out:

About Derek Shirlaw

I'm passionate about science communication, social media, and my home country, Scotland. In particular, I have a real interest in astronomy, digital marketing, and the great outdoors.
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