Night Sky for September 2020

Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars Shine Bright

By Bob Berman
September 15, 2020
September Night Sky

Mark your calendars for September 24 and 25 when Jupiter and Saturn hover due south at 8:30 p.m. and are joined by the Moon for a beautiful sight. See more details in Bob Berman’s Sky Watch for September 2020. 

Sky Watch September 2020

by Bob Berman, as featured in The 2020 Old Farmer’s Almanac

 

Wonders abound! It’s an easy month for viewing the bright planets: three shine brightly in the early evening sky. No need to stay up late! 

Jupiter and Saturn Grow Nearer

Look South. Jupiter is the brightest object in the night sky (besides our Moon), outshining all of the stars. You can’t miss it. Jupiter is also at its highest around nightfall/dusk which makes it an easy sight—with no problems trying to look near the horizon or around buildings. 

Saturn is just to the east of Jupiter. Saturn is not as bright as Jupiter but it equals all of the stars nearby. The two planets will travel together westward across the sky from nightfall until well after midnight. See planet rise/set  times.

Mark your calendars for the nights of September 24 and 25.

The Moon will go past Jupiter and then Saturn. The Moon is near its First Quarter phase which is one of the best times to view. This is the Moon that’s at its highest at sunset just around dinner time. In addition, you’ll be able to see the Moon’s shadows and features better. (It’s more challenging during a full Moon when it appears as a blinding orb.) See my tips on viewing the Quarter Moon.)

First, look for the Moon as a pointer.

  • On Thursday, the 24th, that’s Jupiter which appears right above the Moon. 
  • On Friday, the 25th, that’s Saturn which appears right above the Moon, with Jupiter further to the west.

If you have a telescope, this is a good opportunity to see Jupiter’s four major moons and Saturn’s glorious rings.

Notice how near the two giant gas planets appear. Keep your eye on this duo as their gap narrows in preparation for their amazing and historic “Great Conjunction” in 3 months before 2020 ends!

Mars Brightening To Equal Jupiter

Get ready for Mars which brightens every day. In Pisces, Mars rises at 8:00 P.M. by the month’s end, when the red planet will brighten spectacularly to magnitude –2, equaling Jupiter!  This is Mars at its best over a two-year period.

If you start by looking South at the Moon and Jupiter, turn toward your eastern horizon (sunrise direction) to see the Red Planet in early evening. Mars will shine bright all night. See your planet rise/set times.

Keep you eye on Mars. The Red Planet will keep brightening until October 13 when Earth passes between it and the Sun! At that time, it will be the brightest planet in the night sky, surpassing Jupiter.

Venus is the Morning Star

Venus remains a “morning star” through the end of 2020, rising a few hours before the Sun. You can’t miss Venus. She’s still the very brightest planet in the skies, though her fellow planets are partying at night. 

Full Harvest Moon

Expecting the Harvest Moon this month? You’re not alone! The full Moon that happens nearest to the autumnal equinox always takes on the name “Harvest Moon.”

In 2020, the Harvest Moon falls in October (which has two full Moons this year). See the October Moon Guide

Source: 

The 2020 Old Farmer's Almanac

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Reader Comments

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Planets viewed in Palenville, NY evening sky's

Hi Neighbor, I have followed you for many, many years, and being a Greene County old timer, I wish too thank you for years of invaluable information, service to our community, and reading ?entertainment. I live not far from you, in Palenville, NY, the setting of Rip Van Winkles wandering up our cove, too go bowling with the crew of the Halfmoon and sleep. When I walk my best pal, at approximately, every evening before bed, between 10:30PM and 11:00PM, and then again every morning around 5:30-6:00 AM, and as I look at most of the wonderous and fantastical night and pre-dawn sky events, they are always at different compass positions, from your great articles of our beautiful nocturnal heavens. Take Jupiter, last night it was low in the SW sky, not South, and has been there for, pretty much, all summer long. Then in the morning it sits due East/South East, very bright in the dawn rising sun, again all summer long. Mars, has moved around a bit over the last few months, and has brightened and dimmed as it moved in the sky all summer. This morning, September 3rd, 2020, it was very bright, directly above my head, as bright and big as I have ever seen the red planet with my naked eye. And, last night at 11:00PM Mars was in the N/NW Sky, directly over Katterskill Cove notch. Saturn has not been as easy too see with the naked eye, but I have, about a couple/few weeks ago, Jupiter and Saturn were due west fairly high in the evening sky, not far from each other, just under the waxing, or was it waning, I forget, moon for several nights, moving a bit each night's bedtime walk. My view is limited living in a Cove, (bowl, notch, waterway), and surrounded by tall pines, oaks, hemlocks, and maples, making Venus, and Mercury sightings virtually impossible. All that being said, generally my veiw is always slightly skewed from your insightful points of veiw. And, I just have always wondered why? Again Bob, thank you for years of service too, not only the Almanac and local newspapers, but for your work connserving our beautiful home, here in Greene County New York.

Wow!!

This is a very exciting season! I am very much looking forward to all the events Bob has beautifully described. Thank you so much OFA and Bob for this column!