All information presented here is taken from my 74 page book NightScenes 2017.

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.

September 2017

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 is in conjunction with M44 in the morning sky on the 1st and lies next to Regulus on the 20th. Jupiter lingers in the evening twilight sky and is in conjunction with Spica on the 5th. Saturn also lies in the evening sky but still viewable all month. Neptune comes to opposition on the 5th and is now viewable all night. Uranus is also rising earlier and becoming well placed to view. Pallas moves south through Eridanus slowly brightening. Ceres lies in the morning sky moving from Gemini into Cancer. Mercury has its best morning apparition and lies close to Mars on the 16th & 17th as Mars climbs out of the morning twilight. The Moon occults Gamma Librae on the 24th. Vesta lies too close to the Sun to be viewed.

Main events

June-Saturn.jpgSat_280817_204049-ASI224c-BT10.jpgSaturn still lies in the early evening skies so grab it whilst you can. My image here was taken on the evening of August 28th in twilight and shows many of the features listed on the chart at right.

If you have a telescope then why not take a look? The chart here gives you some of the features to look out for.

IJune-titan-times.jpgt is also worth having a go to spot its largest moon, Titan using the chart here.

Now it is time for the furthest official planet in our solar system as Neptune now comes to opposition on September 5th and so becomes viewable all night. It has been lucky for us that pretty much all year it spends its time not far from mag 3.7 Lambda Aquarii helping to locate it. It is such a slow mover due to its distance from the sun that the author photographed them on July 31st 2016 as shown in the image below right taken with an Equinox 80ED refractor and Canon 50D DSLR. Neptune will be viewable in a 10x50 binocular shining at mag 7.8 so considerably fainter than Lambda. Neptune is retrograding and next month passes below Lambda as shown on our chart below. Interestingly the almost Full Moon lies to the right of Neptune and Lambda on the 5th and it reaches 'Full' phase at 08:03 BST next morning but all of them will have set by then.


sept-venus-m44.jpgNow for a busy morning sky! Venus has a gorgeous close encounter with the Beehive cluster, M44 on the morning of the 1st when it lies under the cluster as they rise. The view at far left shows a wide field, nearly naked eye, view so the really bright 'star' will be Venus. Look with a binocular and you get the RHS chart view and the inset shows the phase of Venus as seen through a telescope at high magnification. Both charts are set for 05:00 BST. The binocular view shows Venus daily as it moves past the cluster.

sept-ven-mn-reg-merc.jpgThen on the 18th as Venus approaches Regulus in Leo, the slim crescent moon joins them for a lovely sight, the wide field shows them on that date. Two mornings later and Venus lies close to Regulus on the 20th as a finale. Both events are shown here and the time is set for 05:30 BST looking East and there is a bonus - Mars and Mercury will be visible too.

So the mornings belong to Venus - but hold on there a moment as Mercury puts on its best morning apparition of the year and lies below Venus in the Sept-merc-mars.jpgmorning twilight. It is also joined by Mars as it creeps up out of the glare of the Sun. The general view at left shows Mercury leap up into the sky and pass Mars before it drops back into the bright morning twilight. Begin looking roughly east at 05:30 BST on the 5th (all seems to be happening on that day!).

   On that morning Mars is also north of Regulus so the first of the sequence of views below shows a snapshot of them with Mercury to their right. Note the scale - they wont be very high above the eastern horizon so an uncluttered flat horizon is needed to view them. Mercury starts off quite faint at mag 1.9 on the 5th but brightens to -1.3 by the 27th. Mercury has its own close encounter with Regulus on the 10th with Mars to their lower left as in the centre chart whilst Mercury passes Mars on the 16th/17th  so they appear to swap positions.

Sept-merc-mars-reg.jpg         Mars is mag 1.8 compared with Regulus which is mag 1.35 so Mercury starts off the faintest and ends up the brightest.

For a difficult finale on the 19th a, just over 24 hour old, slim crescent moon lies below Mars and Mercury as shown here at right, look around an hour before sunrise to try to spot them! As Mercury drops back into the solar glare at the end of the month so Mars climbs higher but watch as Venus is now heading for a close encounter with the Red planet early next month to continue the early morning twilight fun.

Also look out for the following:

Sept   1st  Moon lies close to Teaspoon asterism (evening)

Sept   5th  Jupiter again in conjunction with Spica (evening twilight)

Sept   7th  Ceres lies south of Kappa Geminorum / Pallas lies close  to Zeta Eridani - both are morning events)

Sept 11th  Moon forms triangle with M45 and Aldebaran as they rise tonight

Sept 21st  Slim Crescent Moon to right of Jupiter in bright evening twilight

Sept 22nd Crescent Moon lies to the left of Jupiter (evening)

Sept 24th  Moon occults Gamma  Librae (disappearance only)

Sept 25th  Crescent Moon lies north of Antares in the evening

Sept 26th  Moon lies near to Saturn this evening

Sept 28th  First Quarter Moon lies close to Teaspoon asterism (evening)

  Clear skies and happy sky watching.


The UK & Ireland Night Sky for 2017 AD


The Autumnal Equinox occurs on September 22nd at 20:02 GMT (21:02 BST). Autumn officially begins in the N. Hemisphere whilst Spring begins in the S. Hemisphere.

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