In the Sky this Month for SWFL.
If you are new to the night sky, and have an Android device, such as a tablet or phone, you can find a free app in the Google Play Store, called Sky Map. Sky Map will help you locate objects in the night sky.
In the Sky this Month
Rise & set times of planets are in local time for Ft. Myers, FL, (26.6°N, 81.9°W).
Sunrise: 1st 7:19 am (93°E). Sunset: 7:14 pm 267°W)
Sunrise: 31st 7:36 am (106°ESE). Sunset: 6:45 pm 254°WSW)
September starts with 11 hours, 53 minutes of daylight and ends with 11 hours, 8 minutes.
Information is from above as well as Sky & Telescope and Astronomy Magazine and SkyMania.com.
Night sky simulations, such as on https://www.timeanddate.com (select Night Sky) are helpful for planning planetary observations relative to constellations and other night sky events(Beta).
Moon: Full (twice) –1st, Harvest Moon, & 31st, Blue Moon; Last Quarter – 10th; Apogee – 3rd ; New – 16th; Perigee – 17th; 1st Quarter – 23rd. On the 1st, it sets at 7:01 a.m. (267°W), and rises at 7:29 p.m. (90°E). On the 31st, set time is 7:30 a.m. (282°WSW), and rise time is 7:04 p.m. (76°ENE).
Mercury: (in Virgo this month) presents its usual, and exasperating, visual challenges this month.
On the 1st, at +0.1 magnitude and 6.8” wide, it rises at 9:21 a.m. two hours after sunrise (Az, 108°ESE), lost in sunlight, then sets at 8:16 p.m. (252°WSW).
By the end of October, at a brightness of +1.6 and 9” wide, it rises before the Sun at 6:47 a.m. (107°E). Less than an hour before sunset, it sets at 6:06 p.m. (260°W).
Venus: (pre-dawn to dawn, starts in Leo, then moves to Virgo this month) On the 1st, it rises at 4:21 a.m. at just over 76°E, and sets at 5:12 p.m. (284°W). Its brightness is at -4 to -3.9 for the month, and changes from about 13” to 15.5” wide. On the 31st, it rises at 5:03 am (90°E) and sets at 5:03 pm (270° W). Before sunrise on the 2nd Venus and Regulus are only ½° apart.
Mars: (all night, in retrograde in Pisces all month) is a showoff this month.
Mars is travelling ~5 ½ ° north of the celestial equator, providing its photogenic self for all telescopes.
It starts the month at magnitude -2.5 & diameter 22½”, rising at 8:07 p.m. (Az~83°E) and setting at 8:34 a.m. (Az~277°W) the next morning.
On the 31st, at magnitude -2.1 & diameter 20”, it rises at 5:37 p.m. (Az~84°E) and sets at 5:59 a.m. (Az~276°W). It is in opposition on the 13th day. Referring back to 1988, Mars has not been brighter and larger since previous oppositions in 2003 & 2018, when it was farther south in the sky.
Jupiter: (dusk to midnight & after, Southwest, in eastern Sagittarius). It starts the month with a diameter of 40.4” and ends at almost 40”. On the 1st, it rises at 2:50p.m. and sets about 1:15 a.m. the next morning. On the 31st, it rises just after 1p.m. and sets that night at almost 11:30 p.m. Its brightness starts the month at -2.2 and decreases slightly to -2.0 on the 31st.
Jupiter and Saturn will be about 8° apart at the beginning of October, and will close to about 5.2° apart by the 31st.
They continue moving closer together until they are only 0.1° apart on December 21st.
Jupiter is 90° east of the Sun (E quadrature) on the 11th. Views of its moons stand out a little better in this position.
Saturn: (dusk to midnight & after, Southwest, in eastern Sagittarius). Saturn’s brightness decreases a bit from 0.5 to 0.6. Its disk size decreases from 17.2” to 16.3” during October. On the 1st it rises at 3:17 p.m. and sets at 1:50 a.m. the next morning. On the 31st, it rises at 1:23 p.m. and sets around 11:50 p.m. On 21st & 22nd, Saturn, Jupiter and the Moon appear from left to right in the South within an hour of sunset, just above Sagittarius. Saturn is 90° east of the Sun (E quadrature) on the 18th. The rings show up a bit better in this configuration.
Uranus: (all night, in Aries) At the beginning of October, it rises just north of due East, Az ≈ 74.1°, at 8:43 p.m. and sets at 9:43 a.m. (286.4°WNW) on the 2nd. It appears only 3.73” wide and a 5.7 brightness this month. As the night progresses, it has excellent visibility appearing above Mars, which is above the
Moon, and can be seen with binoculars. On the 31st it rises at 6:41 p.m. at Az of 74.5°ENE and sets at 6:36 a.m. (285.6°WNW) on November 1. It has excellent visibility and “leads” the Moon in the sky on this night.
Neptune: (all night, in Aquarius) On the 1st, it rises at 6:14 p.m. just south of due East at 96° Az, and sets about 5:54 a.m. (264.3°WSW) on the 2nd. It isn’t visible until about 8:30-9 p.m., though, until the sky darkens. It is ahead of the Moon, which rises close to 7:40 p.m. On the 31st, it rises at 4:15 p.m. and sets at 3:54a.m. on November 2.
International Space Station:
Hubble Space Telescope: will be visible on nearly every day but a few this month.
Brightness magnitudes range from +0.7 – +3.8. See this link for specific times and routes for the HST: http://www.heavens-above.com
Comets and Asteroids: See this link for specific times and routes for brightest observable comets and asteroids: http://www.heavens-above.com. Links to finder charts are also available.
Comet 88P Howell, with a short period of 5.5 years, is in good viewing position every 11 years (it is alternately on the opposite side of the
Sun). It will have a brightness of 9.2 and viewed in Scorpius, only 5.6° altitude and 238°WSW, with a 66° separation from the Sun. Some others are higher in the sky, but much dimmer. Consider C/2019 K7 Smith in Hercules at 52.9° altitude and 268°W, 94° from the Sun, but only 15.8 brightness.
With regard to asteroids, 4 Vesta, will be at magnitude 8.3 and altitude 61.2° in Leo. A couple of other visible asteroids are 15 Eunomia at magnitude 10.1 and altitude 41.7° in Gemini, and 16 Psyche at magnitude 10.8 and altitude 6.9° in Taurus.