What's in the night sky in the week of 5th to 11th September, 2022.


Chris Bramley Hello and welcome to Star Diary, the podcast from 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 the fifth to the 11th 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 Hello Ezzy. Back for another week?

Ezzy Yes. So what are your recommendations for the coming week? Do we have anything spectacular in this week's night sky?

Paul Well, we've got another good mix, which I say it's nice when it's a mixture between the morning and evening sky and we will start with the morning. And last week we ended with Venus and Ceres in Leo rising around about 4:30 to 5:00. And of course, as you leave it a bit late, the twilight deepens. But Venus does get better placed to observe. And we want to concentrate on Venus this particular time because we have a star, it's actually quite close on September 5th, the morning round about 5:30 a.m. So you don't want to leave it too long because obviously the Sun will rise and we always have the the warning, don't leave it too long to observe, especially if using binoculars. We don't want you to damage your eyesight with the sun. But if you look about 5:30 a.m. with binoculars at Venus, there's a star to its lower right. And this is Regulus, this is the heart of the lion. This is Alpha Leonis and they're only three quarters of a degree apart. So actually this will be good for a telescope as well, a wide field telescope, because you'll get them well magnified. And Regulus itself has got a faint companion. But how easy that will be to see in the twilight. Well, we'll have to wait and see, won't we? And hopefully get to observe it. My problem is that I've got a lot of clutter on my horizon in that direction, so I have to wait a long time before... so it's daylight by the time it rises high enough. Woe is me. I know. I'm trying to get the sympathy vote here. But, I mean, I have a good section of the sky I can observe. So, you know, it's one of those things isn't it. There's, there's pluses and minuses. So that's the morning sky then, grabbing Venus in the twilight when it's next to Regulus. Now we have to go... we sometimes have nothing happening for a day or two, but the way it goes is that on the 8th we actually have the minor world 3 Juno at opposition. And opposition, of course, is when an object rises as the sun's setting. And so it's opposite the sun in the sky, which technically means it's visible all night as well. Now, Juno itself is quite faint usually, so it's not one of those that's regularly observed, although it's the third minor world to have been discovered. It was one of those things that they just happened to be searching the right area and found this little dot a light that was moving. And so there are others that are brightening it. But, when it reaches opposition, that's always the best time to catch the faint minor whirls because they're at their brightest. Yeah. so it'll be magnitude +7.8. So that's similar to Neptune. So if you've found Neptune in the past, then you should be able to find Juno. So as it happens, Juno, Neptune and Jupiter form a bit of a shallow triangle. Neptune's the apex, pointing down. It's very shallow, but it gives you a good idea of where to look for Juno. It's in Aquarius, and Neptune's in Aquarius, but really close to the border with Pisces. In fact, Neptune is below the circlet of Pisces. So this whole region with a brilliant planet Jupiter as a guide as well, helps you locate these objects and the say it's a nice triangle here, a very shallow triangle with Juno to help you guide to it. So if you've never seen Juno, this is the time to do it. This is the week. You know, get out there and try to grab it. So they are. And I say, similar to Neptune, if you've already seen Neptune, this shouldn't be hard at all. So there we are. And if you follow it over the course of a few nights, if we get a run of clear night, our favourite.... you get one clear night that is cloud, cloud, cloud, cloud, cloud.

Ezzy I don't think it would be appropriate to point your way to Juno with Jupiter. So to see both of those together. Husband and wife.

Paul Ah, so there we are. That's I just I love the fact that we've also got an orbiter going around Jupiter called Juno.

Ezzy Yes exactly. Lots of Junos!

Paul So there's a lot going on at the moment. So it's nice to link all three together. Okay. So we go on to the next evening sort of thing, ou rather that evening in actual fact. In the south southeast, we're back to the Moon. You know, I know the Moon is dominant there, but it does guide us to many objects. And so the Moon forms a triangle with Saturn and Vesta. Now Vesta. Minor world. It can reach naked eye visibility. But it's one of those things that that moment you would need binoculars for it. But there is Saturn, the Moon, and Vesta as well. So you've got three Solar System bodies to hunt down. Saturn will be easy and so will the Moon. So the thing we've been observing in Saturn regularly is gorgeous views, past opposition. So it's now nicely in the evening sky, we're talking about, good grief, 10:00 in the evening. Oh, that's a that's a bit more civil from some in the night sky. So it is becoming really well placed to actually observe if you're in this region, by the way, sort of thing, you know, we've got Saturn, the Moon and Vesta and to the right of Vesta and below Saturn by several degrees is Messier 30 a globular cluster. So it's the last one you do when you do the Messier challenge. When you trying to see all the Messier objects in one night, you can't do it at the moment. It's a March/April thing. But it is interesting that it's actually noted for being that last object. It's a nice little globular. And again, because he's so low, it does tend to get missed off by a lot of people. So if you want to have a go at it, magnitude 7.7. So a nice little globular. And again in the September issue, we always like to push things that way. But in the September issue, oh, there's an article by somebody in that about globulars to find. Who wrote that? Oh yes. Oh yeah. That it was, it was me. I've always found globulars are unsung hero is like the impression in a small telescope is that. Well it's a blob. Yeah. And so you quickly move out as long as you've recorded it that's it, but if you pay attention to them, you learn to develop the averted vision. It's surprising what you can pick out. So have a look at the article. There are 15 globules this time of year you can pick out sort of thing and I say Messier throws got the advantage. You got Saturn above it and then, as I say, the Moon to one side and Vesta to the other. Now it would be better to let the Moon get out of the way because the moonlight won't help you, but it gives you a guide to the area to have a look at this particular globular itself.

Ezzy Possibly find it a bit easier when you come back at a better time to observe it or perhaps even image it.

Paul Yes, exactly. Sort of thing. You know, it's a surprise. Because the beauty about globular, they're a bit like open clusters. The moonlight creates a bit of a problem for diffuse objects like galaxies and nebulae. But when it's a collection of stars, it's surprising how much you can see. And this is why I like globulars through the summer because the light summer nights, the globulars are one of the few things that you can actually still see reasonably well as well as open clusters. So we move to September 9th. We're back in the evening sky now and look out for the full Moon as it rise. Now, normally you wouldn't really recommend looking at an occultation of a star with a full Moon, mainly because the Moon's so bright and the occultations are always better when they're appearing on the dark limb. So as it happens, it's full Moon so there won't be a dark limb. But I just thought I'd point this out because it actually will be occulting Tau Aquarii. So well worth looking because that's a reasonably bright star. I forget the magnitude now, but watch from about 8:30 p.m. for the reappearance because as it rises it will be too low. It will already be occulting the star, but as it rises higher the star will emerge from behind the actual Moon itself. So again, to have a pair of binoculars on that or a small telescope, and then suddenly to see the star appear to the right of the Moon, gives you the sense of the Solar System in motion. The Moon has been moving across it. Hiding the star itself. Now we're having a nice run where they actually, it's literally night after night. And on September 10th again in the evening sky, we've still got the full. This is the technically the, part of the full moon. It was an almost full moon on the night, it's now full moon actually on the 10th. But let's face it, visually, naked eye, I always think a day either side and it's so difficult to tell the difference. You know, they really are hard. They can often look... I've often had people say oh, I saw the full moon the other night and you sort of grit your teeth, you don't want say if you don't want to correct it. Well actually, it wasn't quite full.

Ezzy It was full-ish.

Paul It was full-ish, Yes, you don't want to appear pedantic. But you know, one like to be accurate. You know, we're astronomers, we like to be accurate as such. But this is an interesting one because this full Moon is the Harvest Moon, because it's the closest full Moon to the September equinox. So, you know, so, you know, so and this is why the farmers love this particular Moon, because it lingers, gives them a lot of light and they carry on doing their harvest. And interestingly enough, on the 10th, it also lies below the Moon tonight with Jupiter off to the left. So again, if you haven't found Neptune before, you've got you've got a moon to guide the way. Because there's the moon. Then there's Neptune. And then there's the circle of Pisces to actually observe. Okay. Amazingly, we're still in the sky, and we'll finish off with the moon. Because the next even in September 11th, the Moon itself is past full now, just. Will you be able to tell the difference? Well, write in and tell us. You don't know. Some people can, though. It's very, very subtle sort of thing effect. But it's a bit like seeing the moons of Jupiter with the naked eye. There are a small number of people who can actually do it. I can't. I definitely need optical aid. But again, we'll have a situation whereby theMoon will appear to have a star above it. And as we say, that's no star. It's the Death Star. Oh, sorry. No, it's not the Death Star. It's Jupiter. It's a planet. So, you know, again, this time it will be a real planet. It's really bright, the planet, Jupiter, because the Moon will be very bright as well. But it will be quite obvious that there is something above the Moon and it's the planet Jupiter. And that again helps you guide on. And it confirms if you're an unsure and sometimes, you know, beginners are unsure what they're looking at sort of thing. So I often see things on, on social media whereby they posts also saw this object next to the Moon. What was it, nine times out of ten. It's a planet or a star. So this is this is a planet. And a lot of these apps and our Sky Guide in the magazine tells you when these things take place as well as listening to us Ezzy as well.

Ezzy Absolutely. And it does sound like there's a lot of very interesting things happening this week. It's a good week for minor worlds, with both Juno at Opposition and Vesta appearing close to the Moon and Saturn and also have quite a good showing from Jupiter throughout the week. And if you want to keep up to date with all of the best things to see in the night sky every week, please do be sure to subscribe to the podcast Star Diary and we hope to see you here 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 where we have a 16 page pull out Sky Guide with a full overview of everything worth looking up for. Whether you like to look at the moon, the planets, or the deep sky, whether you use binoculars, telescopes, au niveau, our sky guide has got you covered with the detailed star 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.


Elizabeth Pearson
Ezzy PearsonScience journalist

Ezzy Pearson is the Features Editor of BBC Sky at Night Magazine. Her first book about the history of robotic planetary landers is out now from The History Press.