In Our Skies, September 2021, Viewing Neptune

by Kevin Shank | Aug 26, 2021 | 0 comments

Just after sunset the night of September 14, the planet Mercury will be visible in the western sky just above the horizon. While it is only 26.8° from the Sun and, therefore, close to the horizon, it is at its farthest point from the Sun during the Eastern elongation.

Want a challenge with your telescope? Also September 14, Neptune will be at opposition. This is when it is closest to Earth, fully illuminated, and visible all night long, with a good telescope. It will appear as a tiny blue dot, and will be a challenge to find with a non-GoTo telescope.

October 7 is the Draconids meteor shower. This is a minor shower of maybe ten meteors per hour. This year is a favorable viewing time as the new moon will make for dark skies.

October 21, 22 is the Orionids meteor shower. However, the Moon will be full, so it will wash out all but the brightest of meteors.

September 14, 2021, at 9:40 p.m., Neptune will be directly ESE, approximately 23° above the horizon.
Measure ~20° by stretching thumb and little finger apart at arm’s length.
To locate Neptune with a manual telescope, you can roughly find this spot by starting at Saturn, and drawing an imaginary line through Jupiter, and then another strong time and a half the distance from Saturn to Jupiter. Jupiter is 16° away, while Neptune is 44°.

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