The Sky This Week from September 4 to 11 – Astronomy Magazine

Saturday, September 5The gas giant Jupiter is known for its otherworldly weather. And right now, its putting on a show. Every few years, Jupiter experiences outbreaks of brilliant white storms in its Northern Temperate Belt, or NTB. Although the next outbreak wasnt expected until 2021, its happening early storms burst onto the scene August 18 and were first detected separately by two frequent Astronomy contributors: Damian Peach and Martin Ratcliffe. It was reported shortly after by Japanese amateur astronomer Isao Miyazaki.

Since then, a second outbreak has occurred, starting early September 2, and more may follow. To catch sight of the storms, youll need a telescope with an aperture of 8 inches or larger and a dark, steady sky. Jupiter rotates in just under 10 hours, meaning its features change relatively quickly, even over the course of a single night. Currently, the magnitude 2.5 gas giant is visible in the evenings, already above the southern horizon at sunset and setting around 2 A.M. local time. If youre an experienced imager, the British Astronomical Association is requesting images of the storms.

Even if you dont have a large scope or imaging capabilities, Jupiter and nearby Saturn, about 8.3 to its east are great targets within the constellation Sagittarius. The two planets and several of their moons are visible in small scopes and even binoculars, so dont feel youre missing out on a great sight without a larger instrument.

Sunrise: 6:32 A.M.Sunset: 7:24 P.M.Moonrise: 9:23 P.M.Moonset: 9:37 A.M.Moon Phase: Waning gibbous (89%)

Sunday, September 6The Moon passes 0.03 north of Mars at 1 A.M. EDT. Theyre close enough to appear in the same field of view of binoculars and small scopes. Youll find them together in the southeastern corner of Pisces the Fish. The bright Moon, less than a week past Full, will likely wash out the dim stars of the constellation, but magnitude 1.9 Mars will still be easy to pick out.

For observers in central South America, North Africa, and southern Europe, the Moon and Mars will do more than make a close approach. Youll see the Moon completely occult, or pass in front of, Mars. Check the International Occultation Timing Associations page on the event for occultation times (given in Universal Time, or UT) from the location nearest you. In some places, the occultation will begin and end late on the 5th.

The Moon reaches apogee, the farthest point in its orbit from Earth, at 2:29 A.M. EDT. At that time, our satellite will be 252,032 miles (405,606 kilometers) from Earth.

Sunrise: 6:33 A.M.Sunset: 7:23 P.M.Moonrise: 9:48 P.M.Moonset: 10:35 A.M.Moon Phase: Waning gibbous (82%)

Monday, September 7The Moon passes 3 south of Uranus at midnight EDT this morning. Youll find the pair about 15 above the eastern horizon in Aries the Ram. Uranus is roughly halfway between Aries bright star Hamal and Menkar in Cetus. The waning Moon may make it hard to spot the ice giants magnitude 5.7 glow, but spend some time in the region with binoculars or your scope, and you may spot the flat-looking grayish disk.

Saturns two-faced moon Iapetus reaches superior conjunction today. Youll find the planet and its system of moons the largest in the solar system in Sagittarius. Jupiter lies nearby, to Saturns west. Theyre visible for a few hours after midnight, and again after sunset.

Once youve focused in on the planet, look for Iapetus 63" due north of Saturn. The small moon shines at magnitude 11. Because its two hemispheres have vastly different albedos one is dark, reflecting little light, while the other is brighter and reflects more light the moon swings between magnitudes 10.5 and 11.7, depending on which hemisphere (or combination of the two) is facing Earth. At superior conjunction, 50 percent of each side is pointed toward us, leaving it roughly in the middle of the two extremes.

With a telescope capable of reaching magnitude 11, youll also see several of Saturns other moons: Rhea, Tethys, and Dione (all 10th magnitude), as well as magnitude 8 Titan. Once youve spotted these small points of light, take some time to admire Saturns rings, which extend about 40" from end to end. You may even spot the shadow of the planet falling on the rings eastern side.

Sunrise: 6:34 A.M.Sunset: 7:21 P.M.Moonrise: 10:14 P.M.Moonset: 11:34 A.M.Moon Phase: Waning gibbous (75%)

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The Sky This Week from September 4 to 11 - Astronomy Magazine

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