Night Sky for September 2023: Planets, Stars, and the Moon

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Astronomer looking at the starry skies and crescent Moon with a telescope.
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Tonight's night sky for the month of September

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Have you spotted bright Venus in the morning sky? The planet’s shining at an impressive -4.8 magnitude mid- to late September. Then the Harvest Moon rises Friday, September 29, bringing the magic of moonlight right as the Sun sets. Bob Berman shares more viewing information.

The Evening Planets

Jupiter and Saturn and the planets to see in the evening. See planet rise and set times.

  • For Jupiter, look toward the east and high in the sky.  The planet will shine bright at a magnitude of -2.5 to -2.7 near the pretty Pleiades star cluster. 
  • For Saturn, took to the southeast after sunset, however, the Ringed Planet is fairly dim at magnitude 0.5.

In the early evening, Mars lies very low in the west shortly after sunset. However, Mars is very dim at magnitude 1.7 during the month. 

The Morning Planets

  • Venus shoots rapidly higher each morning, before dawn, reaching its greatest brilliance of 2023 at midmonth with a magnitude of -4.8. At the brightness, Venus will cast shadows on Earth. 
  • Above the same Eastern horizon, look for Mercury to reach its highest position on the 6th.

September 4 to 5: Jupiter Near Moon

Jupiter is high overhead during September nights. Look on September 4 and 5, 2023, when the Moon serves as a guide to locate the King of Planets. Jupiter will rise about 10 p.m. (your local time).

September 11 to 12: Venus and the Moon

Witness a breathtaking sight just before dawn when Venus stands to the right of the crescent Moon within the constellation of Cancer.

September 19: Neptune in Opposition

The other blue planet, Neptune, comes into opposition this evening. This means that the Earth is directly between the planet and the sun. However, if you want to look at this tiny, blue, 8th-magnitude disk, you will need to employ your trusting telescope to bring it into view.  

September 21: Mercury Dangles Below Venus

Very low in the east, Mercury will rise one hour before sunrise. It will dangle right below Venus. Mercury reaches its greatest elongation from the Sun on September 22; the nearest planet to the Sun is now at its best as a morning star, ranging from a brilliant magnitude -0.3 to an even brighter -1.0 at month’s end. 

Venus is much higher in the sky at an impressive -4.8 magnitude. The planet will climb higher each morning and will reach its greatest elongation on October 23, 2023.

the milky way
The Milky Way Galaxy

September 22: Moon in the Milky Way

Head outside around 8 PM, and look to the Southern sky for a spectacular view. The First Quarter Moon hovers in front of the Milky Way’s center, in the constellation Sagittarius.  

September 23: Autumnal Equinox

Saturday morning, September 23, brings the autumnal equinox—at 2:50 A.M. EDT. This marks the start of fall in the Northern Hemisphere and the start of spring in the Southern Hemisphere. Learn more about the first day of fall!

September 19 through 30: Venus Dazzles at Sunrise

On September 19, Venus will reach its greatest brightness in its 2023–2024 morning apparition. It will be shining brightly at mag -4.5. If you want to spot Venus, now is a good time!

On any clear morning, you’ll see Venus easily shining in the eastern skies as the Sun rises.  Venus will reach its greatest elongation west—its farthest distance from the Sun in the sky—on October 23.

September 26: Saturn Sighting

Saturn, the ringed planet, is easy to locate this evening. You can observe the golden planet shining steadily (versus the twinkling stars) as it hovers just above the Moon nearly all night long.

September 29: Full Harvest Moon Rises

The month of bright planets closes out with a magical Full Moon on September 29, which peaks at 5:58 A.M. This particular Moon happens nearest the fall equinox. 

Unlike other full Moons, the Harvest Moon provides extra light around sunset for several nights in a row! Just as the Sun sets, the full Moon makes its way across the horizon, allowing farmers and gardeners to finish their harvests before the frosts of fall arrive.

Learn more about the Full Harvest Moon and the history behind it.

Pegasus Shines in September

Watch for Pegasus, the Winged Horse in the southeastern sky this month! A helpful guide to this asterism (unofficial star pattern) is the Great Square, which outlines Pegasus’ body. See our star chart and how to find Pegasus.

About The Author

Bob Berman

Bob Berman, astronomer editor for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, covers everything under the Sun (and Moon)! Bob is the world’s most widely read astronomer and has written ten popular books. Read More from Bob Berman

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