Star Calendar – September 2016

Star Calendar

September 2016

Star Calendar Planets:

Moon is New fairly near the Sun’s passing through the middle of eclipse season (near a moon node) but is also near apogee so that it is too distant for its shadow tip to reach earth, making an annular eclipse. Full Moon occurs as the Sun is leaving the realm of the node – making a penumbral lunar eclipse then. Neither event is visible in Spring Valley or our hemisphere. A second New Moon occurs as September closes – but the Sun is then well out of the realm of eclipse-making geometry. The Harvest Moon is a period when the skies never really get dark – making outdoor work possible into the night and/or early morning. This year the Full Moon rises in Civil Twilight and does not set until 2 hours after the following sunrise. The effect is stronger when the Moon is well north of the ecliptic – which it isn’t this year.

Mercury scoots back into the morning sky for a more favorable appearance in the second half of this month. Even though the excursion from the Sun makes a much smaller angle than the last one, the steepness of the ecliptic in morning skies at this time make an overwhelming advantage for us. A crescent Moon aids on the 28th and 29th.

Venus sidles up to Spica during the first half of this month, and overwhelms in the second half. Spica is the signature star of Virgo and may be found by following the curve begun by the handle of the Dipper – through yellow-green Arcturus and about that distance again to whitish Spica. Venus is approaching us, getting larger in angular size, and waning gibbous in phase.

Sun crosses the celestial equator, then rises and sets south of east and west until spring. The alternation of presence in the sky for longer and shorter portions of the day is imitated, in different periods by all of the planets – see Jupiter.

Mars starts making tracks away from the Scorpion and toward the Teapot/Archer this month. When he begins to move out he also fades in brilliance. Remember how bright he was compared to Antares in August? He will diminish to equal brightness by January.

Jupiter crosses the celestial equator near his conjunction with the Sun this month. Jupiter will also fall south of the celestial equator, but, unlike the Sun, will remain there for 5 ½ years. One could call this period an autumn and winter for Jupiter. He will next cross the summer colure in June of 2025.

Saturn begins the month above Antares and begins direct motion into Ophiucus in earnest. The Moon stands above the pair on the 6th.

Star Calendar Days:

  1      Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 6:23/19:28 (13h5m daylight)

          New Moon at 5AM, annular solar eclipse S.Africa, Madagascar, Antarctic

  2      Very young Moon grazes Jupiter low in west, setting around 8:PM

  3      Young Moon above Venus, evening in west

  8      Moon above Saturn, SW at 9:PM

  9      Moon above Mars, SW at 10:PM

13      Mercury crosses near-side of Sun

16      Full Harvest Moon at 15:05, penumbral lunar eclipse for Indian Ocean hemisphere

17-18 Venus passes to above and left of Spica, low-western evening sky

21      Mercury is stationary to stars, visible in low east at 6:AM

          Jupiter crosses to south of celestial equator – remains there until May 26, 2022!

22      Center of Sun crosses celestial equator, autumnal equinox, at 10:21 EDT

          Sunrise/sunset at 6:44/18:53 (12h9m daylight)

25      Sun’s upper limb just tangent to southern edge of celestial equator –

          Sunrise/sunset at 6:47/18:47 (12h0m daylight) equal day and night

26      Jupiter crosses far-side of Sun (conjunct)

28      Mercury at greatest angle from Sun, 18 degrees, for this appearance

          Mercury below waning Moon, low East around 6:AM

29      Mercury just below/right of old Moon, low East around 6:AM

30      Another New Moon for this month, 8:PM

About pbdavis

Paul Davis is a former resident of the Threefold Community. He has been a teacher of Celestial Navigation, a Planetarium lecturer, and offered evening Astronomy classes at Sunbridge some years ago. He is now living in New Hampshire.
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