Each Monday I pick out the northern hemisphere’s celestial highlights (mid-northern latitudes) for the week ahead, but be sure to check my main feed for more in-depth articles on stargazing, astronomy and eclipses.
The Night Sky This Week: September 14-20, 2020
This week is one of dark skies that—on a clear night—will be perfect for stargazing. The Moon will be visible as a crescent before sunrise as its slowly wanes to become a New Moon on Thursday.
Thereafter a delicate, gradually brightening crescent Moon will hang in the west after sunset on successive nights.
With skies dark enough to see the Milky Way if you’re in rural areas, and plenty of planets (Jupiter, Saturn and Mars continue to dominate in the east and south), this is one of the best weeks of the month—and, arguably, the entire year, given the warn evenings—to get outside looking up from the northern hemisphere.
Monday, September 14, 2020: Venus, a crescent Moon and the Beehive Cluster
Above the eastern horizon an hour before dawn will be a beautiful sight as the bright planet Venus—in its apparition as the “Morning Star”—forms a triangle with a 13%-illuminated Moon and the Beehive Cluster (M44).
Astrophotographers are sure to be out in force.
Thursday, September 17, 2020: New Moon
Today our satellite will be “new,” getting between Earth and the Sun—and rendering itself invisible to us at precisely 11:00 UTC.
New Moon is not a visual sight in itself, but it does guarantee dark, stargazing-friendly skies all this week.
Saturday, September 19, 2020: Crescent Moon
Tonight right after sunset is a much easier time to look for the our satellite at its most delicate. Look due west and you should be able to find a 9%-illuminated crescent Moon.
Sunday, September 20, 2020: Earthshine
Here’s a final chance to see an impressive-looking crescent Moon, this time with the possibility of seeing “Earthshine”—sunlight reflected from the Earth back onto the dark limb of the Moon. It’s easily seen with the naked eye or binoculars.
The crescent Moon will be about 17%-lit and be in front of the constellation of Libra.
Note: Star charts here are for 40º North latitudes. If you need exact information for where you are please consult an online planetarium like The Sky Live.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.