Star Diary: 19 to 25 September, 2022
As the autumn equinox arrives, the crescent Moon gives a great opportunity to see Earthshine. We take a look at this week's stargazing highlights.
What's in the night sky in the week of 19th to 25th September, 2022.
Chris Bramley Hello and welcome to Star Diary, the podcast for the makers of BBC Sky at night Magazine. You can subscribe to the print edition of the magazine by visiting skyatnightmagazine.com, or to our digital edition by visiting iTunes or Google Play.
Ezzy Pearson Greetings, listeners, and welcome to Star Diary, a weekly guide to the best things to see in the Northern Hemisphere's night sky. In this episode, we'll be covering the coming week from 19th to 25th of September. I'm Ezzy Pearson, the magazine's features editor, and I'm joined on the podcast today by reviews editor Paul Money. Hello, Paul.
Paul Money Now then Ezzy! Getting towards the end of Septem... Can't believe September's over so quick. Good grief! Where's it gone?
Ezzy So what are your top tips for saying goodbye to September this week?
Paul Well, we're in the morning sky for most of this week, in actual fact, because mainly we're following the Moon and a lot of the events are taking place, you know, associated with the Moon. So it's good if you're an insomniac. It's called In the Morning Sky. Now we start off with the moon line above Mebsuta. I can never pronounce that Mebsuta?. Maybe Meb-SU-ta. Which is Epsilon Geminorum, magnitude three. That's on the 19th. Now then lies to the right of Pollock's and Kappa Geminorum on 20th. Now, I always find this interesting because it also forms a triangle. If you take Castor and Pollux and the Moon, it forms a triangle. But in between Castor, sorry, Pollux and the moon, you've got this little star Kappa. And he always gets missed off because we're generally always mentioning, "Oh, yes, Castor and Pollux and the Moon" and often forget the know Kappas there as well. So willing to observe. So if you're hunting around with binoculars, looking at the moon as a crescent now and you come across a extrastar and think "didn't they mention that star?" Well, actually, there'll be plenty of other stars in the field of view as well, because quite a rich area. You've got the Milky Way running through it as well. But there are sort of things, there we are, again, following the Moon as it goes to a thinner and thinner crescent. Now, in the 21st, that Slim Crescent Moon lies several degrees above the beehive cluster. And she's messier 44. It is in cancer crab. Now, the thing about this is that the moon's a crescent, so the reason is much light. Now, if it's just full Moon, it would completely blow out the cluster. You wouldn't be able to see the beehive. Barely. Barely. You'd have to have a telescope to spot. When there's a crescent, there isn't as much light flooding the sky. So you got a chance to see this crescent Moon with the actual cluster directly below it? Because I always love these clusters of thing. It and Messier 45 you know, it's definitely two of my favourite clusters, I have to say. Now the crescent Moon is moving down from cancer into Leo, so we need to be around about 5:00 in the morning. Yes, I know you silly hour again sort of thing, but that's that's the way it runs into it, really. And the Moon on 23rd lies right below the star, Eta Leonis. Now, Regulus is usually the one we mentioned. In fact, we mentioned it a couple of weeks ago about Venus being close to Regulus in bright twilight. Well, the thing about this is that Leo is getting higher. Whereas Venus is dropping back into the solar glare, Leo is steadily pulling out from that glare, so we're seeing it in darker skies. So at 5 a.m., because the sky is getting darker, we're edging towards because we're in autumn now. So we're heading towards in actual fact, winter soon. Gosh, that's coming round quick. That's not fair. Is this winter soon be cold. But think of the crisp, clear night.
Ezzy Crisp nights are always great.
Paul Exactly. So 23rd is also the autumn equinox. As for the northern hemisphere and of course, it's the spring equinox for the Southern Hemisphere. So for us, autumn now officially begins. There's a there's a bit of an interesting thing was the weatherman for meteorological purposes they like to use the first of the month. So the 1st of September meteorological is classed as autumn, but the original meaning wasn't actually the astronomical meaning, which is the Autumn exinox occurring on the 23rd. So Autumn, now, we can honestly say, has officially begun. And I say the Moon's next to Eta Leonis as well this morning. So well worth having a look at that. So moving on from 23rd to 25th for our final object. And fancy a challenge?
Ezzy Always fancy a challenge.
Paul We always fancy a challenge, don't we? Now we mentioned the of the week Venus next irregulars in bright twilight. Well Venus is still in the Twilight. It's getting deeper into that twilight. So the thing about this, though, is that Venus is bright, so you usually can see it quite well as long as is above the horizon. However, the challenge here is not Venus,I mean that's the easy one. But Venus guides you to a really, really slim crescent Moon. We are talking about them only two degrees above the horizon. So again, we've got to emphasise you need an uncluttered, clear horizon. Hopefully there's no missed early morning mist that's taking place at all. A low haze. That would spoil it. Don't watch for too long because again we don't want you catching this on the Sun . The Sun is only eight degrees away from the Moon and Venus. So this is a challenge. Pete makes a point to this in the September issue as well, something that don't get.. don't observe too long. Grab it and then finish. So they all travel on in there about the sun, but it's worth it.
Ezzy Always check what time the Sun's going to rise if you're going to be observing Venus or Mercury in the morning.
Paul Definitely. Without that, you can't. Not worth risking your eyesight for something like this. But if you do spot Venus, you should spot the crescent Moon. If you using binoculrs, 10x50s should do it. It's just 0.6% illumination. I mean, that is incredibly thin.
Paul I don't think I've actually seen a moon that thin myself. Well, the thinnest moon I've seen is a total eclipse of the sun, so that technically...
Ezzy I don't think that quite counts!
Paul But the beauty is you got Venus to guide you to it. And that's the thing. But it will be a challenge in this bright morning twilight. So I would say be very careful. I have it set for me for around about 6:30 in the morning, but time will vary depending on where you are in the U.K. And obviously at that time, in some places, the Sun will have already risen. So do take, as you mentioned, Ezzy, work out your own local sunrise time and go via that. But get it before the Sun rises. But I like a challenge.
Ezzy Yeah. And also make sure when you're working out the sunrise, you leave a good, healthy margin on either side, too, to make sure that you definitely look away in time.
Ezzy It certainly sounds like there are some interesting things to see this week. So to recap, we have got the autumn equinox on the 23rd of September, when the night and the day will be equal in length. And then we also will have the Slim Crescent Moon making its appearance and moving throughout the sky throughout the week. You might even have a good chance to see some earthshine. We hope you do. And if that's given you lots of great things to see this week and you want to make sure that you're keeping up to date with everything that's in the night sky every week. Be sure to subscribe to the Star Diary podcast and we hope to see you here next week. So thank you very much for joining us today, Paul.
Paul My pleasure, Ezzy and look forward to see you next week.
Ezzy If you want to find out even more spectacular sites that will be gracing the night sky throughout the month, be sure to pick up a copy of BBC Sky at Night Magazine. Well, we have a 16 page Pullout Sky Guide with a full overview of everything worth looking out for. Whether you like to look at the moon, the planets, or the deep sky, whether you use binoculars, telescopes or neither. Ask Guide. Guide has got you covered with the detailed stock charts to help you track your way across the night sky. From all of us here at BBC Sky Magazine. Goodbye.
Chris Bramley Thank you for listening to this episode of The Start, our podcast from the makers of BBC Scotland Magazine. For more of our podcasts, visit our website at Scotland Magazine dot com or head to Acast, iTunes or Spotify.