Astronomy Events for September – 2017

A quick review of the astronomical events and historical events for the month. These are just a few of the things we would like to highlight, and if there are things that should be added for whatever reason, please let us know and we will be glad to make those changes. Happy Viewing and check in with our website on a regular basis for more information, updates, and other cool activities that are occurring.

Astronomical Events

  • September 5 – Neptune at Opposition. The blue giant planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. It will be brighter than any other time of the year and will be visible all night long. This is the best time to view and photograph Neptune. Due to its extreme distance from Earth, it will only appear as a tiny blue dot in all but the most powerful telescopes.
  • September 6 – Full Moon. The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 07:03 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Corn Moon because the corn is harvested around this time of year.
  • September 12 – Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation. The planet Mercury reaches greatest western elongation of 17.9 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the planet low in the eastern sky just before sunrise.
  • September 20 – New Moon. The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 05:30 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
  • September 22 – September Equinox. The September equinox occurs at 20:02 UTC. The Sun will shine directly on the equator and there will be nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world. This is also the first day of fall (autumnal equinox) in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of spring (vernal equinox) in the Southern Hemisphere.

Historical Events

September 15th, 1959 the USSR launched Luna 2 spacecraft is the first spacecraft to impact into another world, the Moon, and is the first delivery of national pennants to a celestial body.

September 24th, 1970 the USSR launched Luna 16 marks the first automatic sample return from the moon

September 1st, 1979 the NASA Pioneer 11 probe is the first spacecraft to perform a Saturn flyby at 21,000 km, first photographs of Titan from Space

September 15th, 1990 the NASA Magellan spacecraft is starts an extended, multi-year orbital exploration of Venus

September 8th, 2004 the NASA Genesis spacecraft returns the first sample beyond lunar orbit, which the sample is of solar wind.

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