Consider a planetarium program to help you plan your observations. There are many commercial products available; an excellent program (STELLARIUM) is available free at http://www.stellarium.org/.
Get your binoculars or small telescope out and have a look at M15, a globular cluster in the constellation Andromeda. The photo (below) is a view I caught the other day through my 6″ reflector (which demonstrates that you don’t need a large scope to see and photograph interesting objects). There are many other Messier (‘M’) objects out there this time of year, a few of which are shown in the following graphic along with M15 – for an explanation of what Messier objects are, see my short article at http://scaspueblo.com/blog/2017/03/16/what-is-a-messier-object/.
Full Moon at 8:52 p.m. MDT.
Later this evening, look for the Pleiades star cluster (M45) to the upper left of the waning gibbous Moon.
Mercury (in Virgo)
Mercury is in hidden by the Sun this week.
Venus (in Virgo)
Venus is very low in the west-southwest and sets before the end of twilight. It’s now at magnitude -4.8, its peak brilliance. Viewed through binoculars or a telescope, it is a nice crescent with about 25 percent of its surface illuminated (tip: to get a better telescopic view of Venus without all the glare, observe it while it’s still high in the blue sky).
Mars (in Capricornus)
The bright red planet is getting dimmer, but is still slightly brighter than Sirius. Mars is in its best viewing position in the south about just after dark – it sets about 2 a.m. The dust from the recent storm is reported to be clearing, and some dark surface markings may be visible. Grab a look while you can!
Jupiter (in Libra)
Jupiter appears in the southwest during twilight, to the upper left (east) of Venus. The best views are soon after dark, but the disk has shrunk in size dramatically since earlier this summer and Jupiter is getting lower in the sky every week.
Saturn (in Sagittarius)
Look for Saturn just above tip of the ‘spout’ of the Sagittarius ‘teapot.’ The ringed planet is that yellowish “star” in the south-southwest after dark.
Uranus (in Aries/Pisces)
Look in the east during the late evening. Did you know that you can easily see Uranus with binoculars if you know where to look? Check out the Sky & Telescope finder chart at http://wwwcdn.skyandtelescope.com/wp-content/uploads/WEB_UrNep18.pdf. Happy hunting!
Neptune (in Aquarius)
Look in the southeast during the late evening.
BRIGHT IRIDIUM FLARES
The following data are based on my location in Pueblo West, Colorado. If you live well outside this area, you should consider checking this information for your location in order to be assured of accurate times, elevations, etc. If you’re unfamiliar with Iridium flares, check out my short article at: http://scaspueblo.com/blog/2017/02/25/iridium-flares/.
Sunday (September 23) 8:35:55 p.m. / Magnitude -3.7 / ESE / Elevation 50 degrees
Wednesday (September 26) 6:51:58 a.m. / Magnitude -5.5 / NNE / Elevation 52 degrees
Wednesday (September 26) 8:22:54 p.m. / Magnitude -1.1 / SE / Elevation 52 degrees
INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (ISS) and TIANGONG2 (CHINESE SPACE STATION)
These are too numerous to list here! If you’re seriously interested, load the ISS DETECTOR or HEAVENS-ABOVE app on your smart phone or tablet.
Pueblo West, Colorado