Many of you saw the remarkable pairing of Venus and the crescent moon last night, but some were less fortunate. We had cloudy skies at my house. For North America the moon slid by the planet; for parts of South American however the crescent passed directly over Venus. Skywatchers there witnessed a rare occultation.
Tonight the moon fattens and moves on to the east. While I dissed Saturn the other day, saying it was too faint and low to see well from mid-northern latitudes, that doesn’t mean it’s absent. Using the moon tonight, you may well get your last easy view of the ringed planet at dusk with binoculars. Observers living in the southern U.S. may even spot Saturn briefly with the naked eye before it sets.
Mercury will be more challenging – a first magnitude glimmer to the lower right of Venus only a few degrees above the sunset horizon.
The International Space Station returns to morning visibility this week from many locations. Watch for a brilliant, yellowish “star” moving from west to east across the sky around the start of morning twilight. Click over to Spaceweather’s Satellite Flybys or login to Heavens Above to get times and viewing directions for your town.
Here are a few passes visible from the Duluth, Minn. region:
* Thurs. Sept. 12 starting at 6:05 a.m. Low pass from southwest to northeast. Max. altitude: 14 degrees (one fist held at arm’s length against the sky equals 10 degrees).
* Fri. Sept. 14 at 6:03 a.m. starting in the southwest below Orion and moving northeast. Max. altitude = 33 degrees
* Sat. Sept 15 at 5:15 a.m. similar to above. Max. altitude: 21 degrees
* Sun. Sept. 16 at 6:02 a.m. Passes high in the southern sky moving from southwest to northeast. Brilliant! Max. altitude: 74 degrees