Dark Skies September Update
The nights are slowly lengthening as we approach the Autumnal Equinox. On the 23rd September, day and night will be of equal length.
In terms of planets, only Saturn still clings on in the evening sky, low in the south west. All the other named planets on the sky chart – Uranus, Neptune and dwarf planet Pluto – need either binocular or telescopic aids to see them. For the early risers amongst you, the morning skies hold most of the action, with Mars, Venus and Jupiter all coming into view. Venus is the most obvious object, blazing away in the low eastern skies just before sunrise.
I hope some of you managed to see some of last months Perseid shower. In an 80 minute session in the early hours of the 13th Aug, we managed to see 83 meteors, one of our best observing sessions to date! There are no major meteor displays for September but there is always a chance of seeing sporadic meteors at any time of the night.
The main event for the month will be the Total Lunar Eclipse in the early morning hours of 28th September. The Moon will enter the eclipse shadow at 01.07 GMT (02.07 BST), with the eclipse ending at 04.27 GMT (05.27 BST). Totality lasts from 02.11 GMT until 03.23 GMT (03.11 BST – 04.23 BST). At times, the Moon turns an almost blood or coppery red during totality, but since the lower limb of the Moon remains close to the edge of the eclipse shadow, this part may stay a much lighter or milky colour. Try your hand at some eclipse photography, the results could be stunning.