Evening Planets — Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus
Jupiter shines brightly as the sky darkens tonight. Saturn appears from the bright twilight a few minutes after Jupiter. Telescope observers should note that Jupiter is setting a bit earlier each night.
Tonight, Jupiter sets about four hours after sunset. By October, Jupiter will set less than three hours after the sun. Best observing is just as twilight fades and Jupiter is at maximum altitude. This observing “window” will shrink as the month progresses.
Saturn follows Jupiter across the southern sky by about two hours. Telescope observers will have excellent views of the rings and moon by 9 p.m. tonight. By month’s close Saturn will be well placed in the southern sky about 45 minutes after sunset as the sky begins to darken.
Dim Neptune rises in the southeast in the constellation Aquarius tonight just before 8 p.m. By mid-month, Neptune rises just before sunset and is well placed for observing by 9 p.m.
Page 49 of “Sky and Telescope” magazine’s September 2019 issue has a star map to help locate Neptune and Uranus.
Uranus follows Neptune into the night sky just after 10 p.m. as September opens. By October, Uranus will appear in the east a bit before 8 p.m. Modest binoculars and a good star chart will help to find Uranus (magnitude 5.8) in Aries, not far above the Cetus border. Uranus will languish in southern Aries until 2024.
Mars, Venus and Mercury
Mars is near the sun this month. It will not leave the sun’s glare until late October.
Venus and Mercury slowly creep away from the setting sun this month. Both planets will be low in the western sky just after sunset after mid-month.
Venus will be easier to spot as a dazzling small “star” to the left of the spot where the sun sets. Mercury, much dimmer and also very low to the horizon, will be a challenge to observe. Both planets will set in bright twilight and only manage about 30 minutes of observing time as October starts.
Morgan Observatory at U.C.C. (PMO) Events September
Come to the Morgan Observatory after the Umpqua Astronomers meeting on Sept. 9 at approximately 8:30 p.m. to observe Jupiter, Saturn and the very bright moon. Observatory observing will begin about 8:45 p.m. and conclude by 10:00 p.m.
The next to last scheduled public night at the observatory is Friday, Sept. 20, hosted by the local astronomers club at 7:45 p.m. with the observatory opening at 8:15 p.m. The observatory will show star clusters and nebula of the late summer.
These events are free. Limited parking is available at the Tower Building near the observatory. Space inside the observatory is limited and handicap access is available. Visit www.umpqua.edu/observatory for details.
Umpqua Astronomers Meeting
The Umpqua Astronomers monthly meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Sept. 9 at U.C.C. Wayne Crooch Hall Room 10. Anyone wanting a Q & A session about astronomy, telescopes or general star gazing information please come at 6:30 p.m.
Club news, monthly sky events and astronomy news will be presented at the monthly meeting. Fall star gazing will be discussed. Everyone interested in astronomy is welcome.
After the meeting, if skies are clear, join local astronomers for an observing session at the Morgan Observatory at about 8:30 p.m.