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August 31st: Observing With Webb in September 2011


Date: August 31, 2011

Title: Observing With Webb in September 2011

Podcaster: Rob Webb

Link: mrwebb.podbean.com

Description: This podcast discusses the events, planets, and constellations that can be seen in the night sky during the month of September, hosted by Rob Webb, Physics teacher at Pequea Valley High School.

Bio: Rob Webb is a physics, astronomy, and sustainability teacher at Pequea Valley High School in Pennsylvania. His passions include teaching, astronomy, astrophotography, planetariums, running, reading, and learning.

A proud graduate of Dickinson College in 2005, he also attained a Master¹s Degree in Science Education from Penn State University this August, after conducting research in regards to the current state of planetariums in Pennsylvania. Feel free to contact him at rob_webb@pequeavalley.org

Sponsors: This episode of “365 days of Astronomy” is dedicated to Nicole “Noisy Astronomer” Gugliucci for showing that science and life are about fun, too.

This episode of “365 Days Of Astronomy” has also been sponsored by Greg Dorais, just because it’s a really cool podcast.


A simple month for September this year. The moon goes through its phases, passing only two planets, the nights get longer, and Fall begins, allowing a lot of time for constellation finding.


First Quarter Moon – 4th (Visible until midnight)

Full Moon – 12th (Visible all night – East around sunset, West around Sunrise)

15th, 16th – Close Encounter – Moon & Jupiter – Look to the East around 11pm on the 15th and you’ll see Jupiter about 7˚ below the Moon. As the night of the15th turns into the morning of the 16th, you’ll see them both moving up and toward the South, getting closer. If you’re looking on 16th, find the Moon in the East around 11pm and Jupiter will be about 7˚ to the right. A great pair to look at through binoculars!

Last Quarter Moon – 20th (Visible from midnight into the morning)

23rd – Close Encounter – Moon & Mars – Go out early in the morning before sunrise and find the thin Moon in the East. Mars is only about 5˚ up and to the left of the Moon.

23rd – Fall Equinox – When all locations on Earth experience a day of almost exactly 12 hours and a night of almost exactly 12 hours. It is the astronomical first day of fall, even though meteorologically it typically starts in the beginning of September.

New Moon – 27th (darkest skies)

PLANETS…well, the ones visible with your naked eye
Planets you can see around Sunset – Saturn (W)
Planets you can see throughout the night – Jupiter (ESW)
Planets you can see in the Morning – Jupiter (SW), Mars (E), Mercury (E)

Mercury – The beginning of the month is the best time to look for Mercury, when it is about 15˚ above the horizon. Each morning it gets closer and closer to the horizon and harder to see until is “disappears” on the 18th.

Venus – You might be able to catch it in the West just after sunset, very low on the horizon. You’ll need a good view of the horizon, and possibly some binoculars.

Mars – Still a morning object, rising around 3am. Look to the east before sunrise, and it will be about 45˚ or so above the horizon, just “below” Gemini. It will have a reddish hue – use a star chart to help. Close to the Moon on the 23rd.

Jupiter – Rises around 10:30pm in the East and makes its way up and to the South throughout the night. Close to the Moon on the 15th and 16th. In the mornings, it will be high in the southwest. Extra Challenge! Stay up a little later and point some binoculars toward Jupiter. You should be able to see the four moons of Jupiter right next to it – Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto – in different configurations each night. To see these bright points even better, use a telescope. You may even be able to see the cloud bands on Jupiter.

Saturn – Saturn will require a very good eye to see. It’s only 15˚ above the western horizon at sunset and getting lower every day until it’s not visible at all anymore on the 16th.

CONSTELLATIONS… (see sky map link at the bottom for a Star Map for this month – or ask Mr. Webb) Look straight up and you’ll see…

Just after Sunset (around 7:30pm) – Lyra the Harp, Cygnus the Swan
Extra Challenge! Use binoculars (or even a telescope) and a star chart to scan through the southern constellation of Sagittarius. There are at least 7 easily visible clusters and nebulas up and to the right of the “teapot” of Sagittarius.

Between Sunset and Midnight – Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila (a little to the south) – These are the Summer constellations, and since they are visible right above us around midnight (and to the east after sunrise), it’s now summer! More details below in the “General Constellation Finding Tips”

Midnight – Lacerta, Pegasus, Andromeda – Extra Challenge! Using your naked eye (dark-adapted and in a dark area) or binoculars under normal conditions and a star chart, try finding our neighboring Andromeda Galaxy. It’ll be a faint fuzzy in the constellation Andromeda.

Early Morning – Perseus, Auriga

Summer Constellations: Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila, Delphinus
Look up before midnight and you’ll be able to see Lyra (the Harp), Cygnus (the Swan), Aquila (the Eagle), (and Delphinus the Dolphin.) These three constellations have the three brightest stars of the summer constellations (Vega, Deneb, Altair – respectively.) Those bright stars create the summer triangle. Off to the east of this is the small but beautiful constellation of Delphinus. If you’re under dark skies (away from city lights) you may just catch a glimpse of the Milky Way passing through Cygnus and Aquila.

Use a sky map from www.skymaps.com to help you out.

End of podcast:

365 Days of Astronomy
The 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast is produced by the Astrosphere New Media Association. Audio post-production by Preston Gibson. Bandwidth donated by libsyn.com and wizzard media. Web design by Clockwork Active Media Systems. You may reproduce and distribute this audio for non-commercial purposes. Please consider supporting the podcast with a few dollars (or Euros!). Visit us on the web at 365DaysOfAstronomy.org or email us at info@365DaysOfAstronomy.org. Until tomorrow…goodbye.

One Response to “August 31st: Observing With Webb in September 2011”

  1. Jayce Varghese says:

    Hi I am a navigational officer onboard a Maersk line vessel (Maersk Lima) and I think I just sighted jupiter at its brightest in my entire sea life and near to it were three small white dots which I think are the moons. Among which one was little away compared to the other dots. Just wanted to know if its normally possible to see these using a normal marine binoculars.But Jupiter was stunningly bright.

    Present position: 25 nautical miles south of brasil coast
    LAT: 24deg57.2′ S
    LONG: 047 DEG 03.9′W
    Bearing: 070DEG
    Altitude: Not sure but between 7-10 degrees
    DATE & TIME: 02 Sep 2011 / 0207 UTC

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