In September, Pegasus becomes increasingly prominent in the southeastern sky, allowing stargazers to locate globular star clusters and a nearby double star, Alpha Capricorni. Keep watching for space-based views of densely packed, spherical collections of ancient stars in visible and X-ray light.
Jupiter and Saturn have been featured in the summer’s night sky each night and all night across the southern sky, but in September 2020, the two planets are on their way to setting by about 10:00 p.m.
In September 2020, Mars passes the southern sky all night; and last night Mars rose just above the Moon. The remarkable red planet was quite noticeable near the waxing Gibbous Moon of Saturday, September 6, 2020. This is known as a Conjunction, which involves either two objects in the Solar System or one object in the Solar System and a more distant object, such as a star. In this case last night, Moon in earth’s orbit and Mars in orbit around the sun moved together across the sky — giving the illusion that they were close together. A conjunction is caused by the observer’s perspective The Moon and Mars were not actually close to each other. They just happened to appear together in the line of sight.
In South America last night the Moon actually blocked the appearance of Mars. The Moon actually caused Mars to disappear behind it. In astronomy this is known as an occultation.
In September 2020, Mars gets brighter as the month progresses. In September, prior to September 10, 2020 (Opposition on September 13, 2020), Mars has been moving and will move eastward against the backdrop of stars. On September 10, 2020 Mars will begin moving westward (retrograde) against the backdrop of stars. Opposition in this case with Mars in September means that earth and earthling observers are directly in a line between Mars and the Sun. If earth were transparent, and you could see the sun at night; when you turn your back to Mars, you would be facing and seeing the Sun.
At pre-dawn on Monday, September 14, 2020 a crescent Moon will rise with Venus just before dawn.
On Thursday night, September 24, 2020, the day after a First Quarter (half Moon) Saturday, Jupiter and the Moon (left to right) will be together in an arc, setting in the southwest between 10:00 p.m. and midnight.
September also introduces the Winter sky preview with Pleiades, Taurus, Hyades, Orion constellations and the Sirius (the brightest star in the sky) rising after midnight.
What’s in the Night Sky September 2020 from Alyn Wallace | Aurora Borealis | Mars Retrograde
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In August, a flock of star-studded figures soars overhead. Look for the Vega and Lyra constellations, which point to Epsilon Lyrae and the Ring Nebula. You can also spot three bright summer stars: Vega, Deneb, and Altair, which form the Summer Triangle. Keep watching for space-based views of these and other stars and nebulas.