All information presented here is taken from my 74 page book
Nightscenes 2018 which is available to order from our web shop and all good book stores! Note we can no longer supply printed copies as we’ve run out but a pdf version is now available from our web shop. A kindle version is also available from Amazon UK
Click on the monthly image to get a larger high resolution view of the night sky set for 53° N (Horncastle, England) but is usable for the UK and Eire. All charts are set for the 1st of the month at 22:00 GMT (10pm) and can be used on the other dates and times shown in each corner of the chart.
Solar System quick summary
For most charts see the buttons at the top for various planets etc.. Charts & images in the text can be clicked to give a larger view.
Venus sets shortly after the Sun so no longer viewable. Jupiter, Saturn and Mars are the dominant evening planets along with minor planet Vesta. Comet 21P/Giacobini-
Jupiter lies low in the SW as twilight comes to an end with Saturn and Mars also easily viewable along with minor planet Vesta.
Saturn remains viewable in the South/SW and if there is one planet you really should take a look at through a telescope then the Ringed Planet Saturn is the one as there is nothing else in our solar system quite like it when you see the rings for yourself. The chart here shows the main features to look out for. Even in a spotting scope or large binocular you can just make out that Saturn is special in that it appears elongated.
To add to the fun, a large binocular or a small telescope will also show Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, orbiting around the planet taking 16 days to complete one orbit. Time of when it is furthest from Saturn are shown above so do try to track it down.
Mercury lies in the morning twilight. On our chart on the left, it became viewable from August 17th low down in the ENE sky and the innermost world is shown every morning at ~ 40 minutes before sunrise. It was at Greatest Western Elongation on Aug 26th and at the start of September it begins to fall back towards the direction of the Sun. Mercury is always brighter at the end of its morning apparitions and so it continues to brighten, making it easier to locate even though it is getting lower in the morning twilight sky. On Sept 6th Mercury will be mag -
Although the bright naked eye planets Jupiter, Saturn and Mars are dominating the evening skies, now Neptune comes to opposition on Sept 7th. It shines at mag 7.8 so a binocular is needed or a small telescope. It is retrograding and lies between the stars 82 and 83 Aqr (mags 6.2 and 5.4) for easy identification on Sept 26th. The chart shows Neptune from Sept 1st through to Nov 1st around 10pm and in small instruments it shows a subtle bluish tint betraying its identity.
This month there are several occultations including Gamma () Capricornus on the 21st, Delta () Capricornus on 22nd, (northern areas) and Xi2 (2) Cetus on the 27th. Gamma Cap is occulted for all areas of the UK/Ireland and so for ‘D’ look out from 9pm as the Moon creeps towards the star then occults it on the dark limb. R is on the bright limb so look out from 10pm for the reappearance although that is always the harder one to catch when it occurs on the bright limb.
A few hours later into the morning of the 22nd and the Moon now lies close to Delta Cap. For the author’s location (Horncastle) then it misses the star so for some regions there is no occultation. The chart on occultation page (menu at top) shows where it can be seen and also includes the times and the occultation details for Xi2 (2) Cetus on the 27th.
As it is a visitor, let’s look out for Comet 21P/Giacobini-
The comet passes to one side of the clusters M38 and M36 (right) and reaches perihelion (closest to the Sun) on the 10th whilst next night it is quite close to M37 for a great photo opportunity. It races towards the feet of Germini and on the early morning of the 16th when it lies close to M35 and also the smaller cluster NGC 2158. It moves through Gemini into Monoceros where the 2nd chart at left shows it as it passes NGC 2264 the Christmas Tree cluster on the 25th and then between it and the Rosette cluster and nebula the next morning before passing the latter on the 27th. It ends the month near the mag 4.5 star 18 Monoceros. More details can be found using the minor worlds button at top.
Normally Nightscenes lists meteor showers with a ZHR of 10 or more but data kindly provided by Jürgen Rendtel of the International Meteor Organisation (IMO) suggests there is a slim chance of an outburst of the September Epsilon Perseids on peak night of September 9th. This coincides with ideal conditions as it is also New Moon so although normal peak rate would be 5 then it may be worth keeping an eye out for them in the early evening around 7-
Also look out for the following:
Sept 2nd Moon forms wide triangle with M45 and Aldebaran/Hyades (morning)
Sept 3rd Last Quarter Moon lies very close to Aldebaran (morning)
Sept 7th Slim crescent Moon south of Delta Cnc & below M44, Beehive cluster
Sept 12th Crescent Moon lies above Venus in bright evening twilight
Sept 13th Crescent Moon to right of Jupiter/ Jupiter also lies south of Nu Libra
Sept 14th Crescent Moon to left of Jupiter (evening twilight)
Sept 15th Thick crescent Moon lies above Antares (evening twilight)
Sept 17th First Quarter Moon lies close to Saturn and Mu Sgr (evening)
Sept 18th Moon lies close to Teaspoon asterism (evening)
Sept 19th Moon lies to upper right of Mars whilst Jupiter again lies on a line between Beta and Sigma Libra (both evening events)
Sept 20th Moon lies to upper left of Mars (evening)
Sept 23rd Moon very close to Psi Aqr (evening)
Sept 26th Minor Planet Vesta passes south of Saturn tonight & tomorrow (evening)
Sept 27th Moon occults Xi2 Ceti (evening)
Sept 29th Moon lies close to Hyades, especially Hyadum 1 (evening)
Clear skies and happy sky watching.
The UK & Ireland Night Sky for 2018
The Autumnal Equinox occurs on September 23rd at 01:54 GMT (02:54 BST). Autumn officially begins in the N. Hemisphere whilst Spring begins in the S. Hemisphere.
Webmaster © Paul L Money 2018
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