Yukon Sky Report – September 2023
By: Shale Davis

The Moon

On the 23rd of August India successfully landed a spacecraft on the lunar south pole, joining a very exclusive club of countries that have completed the feat. This came only days after a Russian lander (Luna 25) crashed into the surface following a loss of control high above the ground. What is truly impressive about this story is the extremely limited budget that the Indian space agency had to work with, only about 75 million dollars which in space terms is very very small.

Have you ever thought about seeing the Moon up close? Sure you might not have 75 million dollars lying around but how about a pair of binoculars or even just your eyes? That’s right even a humble set of binos can reveal a truly impressive amount of detail on the lunar surface. Some of the features you could spot include…. Craters, ridges, canyons and mountain ranges. Even if the only instruments at your disposal are your own two eyes you can still track the lunar phases and observe the largest features.

This September the Moon will be full on the 29th.

The Planets

Venus – Appearing low to the east just following sunrise Venus will be a potential target this month. The window to observe the planet will be fairly short as the rising Sun is not far behind. For best views look to the east at 10 degrees above the horizon at 6:30 AM, assuming an unobstructed line of sight Venus should be fairly obvious.

Jupiter – Rising high into the night sky Jupiter and it’s loyal pack of moons make for a great view in any optics. It’s bright white light will steadily brighten throughout the month as it draws closer to opposition in November. Jupiter will be at it’s highest around 4:30 AM.

Saturn – lying in wait Saturn is one of the most sought after objects in amateur astronomy. Still quite bright after it’s opposition in late September, now is a great time to view the ringed planet. Additionally Saturn appears a full 5 degrees higher in the sky then it did last year at it’s opposition, making for less atmospheric distortion. The best time of night to view Saturn will be at around 1:30 AM, at which time it can be found directly south.

Outer Planets – The two outermost planets Uranus and Neptune are visible in the night sky this month. Both planets don’t really look like much more then faint specks of light. In Neptune’s case it will reach opposition on the 19th. If you plan on observing either of these Ice Giants you will need to come prepared. Some sort of detailed chart of the sky is necessary to find such remote objects.

Deep Sky Objects

As the fall skies darken a large number of DSO’s become visible, such as…

The infamous Andromeda Galaxy – This familiar favourite is well placed for observing this time of year. It can be found with binoculars.

The Ring Nebula – A bright and compact nebula found within the Lyra constellation. This target is well known for it’s visible ring like appearance.

The Double Cluster – Among the most beautiful star formations visible in the sky. Look near Perseus’ sword and the sheer enormity of stars is sure to take your breath away.

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