What to See in the Night Sky in September


After a summer that featured Tesla’s spaceman completing a full orbit around the sun, a muted Perseid meteor shower in August, and the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, it’s been an eventful time in the galaxy we call home. What could September possibly offer for an encore? Plenty, it turns out.

Dust off that sweatshirt, grab a blanket, and enjoy the waning weeks of summer while you’re looking up into the evening sky. Below are just some of the highlights.

India’s Chandrayaan-2 mission arrives at the moon (Sept. 6)

India successfully launched its second lunar exploration mission back in July, sending an orbiter, lander and rover to the south pole of the moon. A touchdown would be truly historic for the country, as only the United States, China, and Russia have accomplished a moon landing. None of those landings were in the south polar region, though, which is where India’s mission is headed. India isn’t the only one with its eyes on the south pole — NASA plans to land astronauts there in 2024.

Neptune gets up close and personal (Sept. 10)

This is the best day of the year to see Neptune, as it makes its closest approach to earth, which happens when it’s almost directly opposite of the sun. Even at its closest, you’ll still need a telescope, as it’ll look more like a bright star when viewing with just your naked eye.

Dial up Neil Young for this Harvest Moon (Sept. 14)

The “Harvest Moon” will reach full phase at 12:33 a.m. EDT. This type of full moon can occur in either September or October, since it’s tied to an astronomical event: the autumnal equinox. What’s with the name? It’s called that because it provides the most light at a crucial time of year: to gather and complete the harvest!

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