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Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of September 2018

Posted by Guy Pirro   08/31/2018 02:47AM

Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of September 2018

NGC 7089, or M2, was the first globular cluster to be included in the Messier catalog. It is located roughly 37,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Aquarius. A globular cluster is a spherical group of stars that are bound together by their mutual gravitational attraction. M2 has a diameter of over 150 light-years and is one of the largest clusters of its kind. M2 orbits our Milky Way Galaxy like nearly 200 other globular clusters left over from the early days of our universe. The globular cluster was discovered in 1746 by the French astronomer Jean Dominique Maraldi while he was observing a comet. This Hubble image of M2’s core was created using observations taken at visible and infrared wavelengths. M2 contains over 150,000 stars and most of the cluster’s mass is concentrated at its center, with shimmering streams of stars extending outward into space. It has an apparent magnitude of 6.3 and can be seen with the naked eye in ideal viewing conditions. Large telescopes will resolve the cluster’s individual stars. (Credits: NASA and the Office of Public Outreach – STScI, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory - JPL) (Image Credit: NASA, ESA, STScI, A. Sarajedini - University of Florida)



Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of September 2018

Welcome to the night sky report for September 2018 -- Your guide to the constellations, deep sky objects, planets, and celestial events that are observable during the month. Spot Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars with the naked eye. This month your binoculars will reveal the rusty surface of Mars, iconic rings of Saturn, the waxing Moon, and the comet Giacobini-Zinner, which passes through the constellation of Auriga. Then, set your sights beyond the solar system and take a late summertime road trip of the constellations along the Milky Way. The night sky is truly a celestial showcase. Get outside and explore its wonders from your own backyard.


Venus, blazing in the western sky around sunset for much of the year, bows out by months’ end. Jupiter, not far from Venus in the southwestern sky, moves lower as the month progresses. A small telescope reveals large-scale atmospheric features of Jupiter and the sunlit clouds of Venus.


Saturn and Mars shine in the southern sky against the stars of Sagittarius. The waxing moon passes each in turn on the 17th and 19th of the month. The rusty surface of Mars and iconic rings of Saturn are easily visible, even in small telescopes.


September nights feature the “wet quarter” of the sky -- Two neighboring constellations bear ancient reference to water. Aquarius is one of the oldest constellations, recognized even by early civilizations. In ancient mythologies, Aquarius was the god of the waters. Look for the Water Jar, a group of stars shaped like a Y.


A rich, compact cluster of stars can be seen in Aquarius. Known as M2, it contains about 150,000 stars located about 37,500 light-years away. Binoculars present it well, but a small telescope reveals much more detail in the cluster’s compact center.


Nearby is the great constellation Capricornus. Known in mythology as the Water Goat, it represents a creature that fed and watered the infant Zeus, ruler of the Greek gods. Algedi is the brightest star in Capricornus. It’s visible in binoculars as an elongated star. This odd shape is due to a visual trick. From our distant vantage point, two unrelated stars appear to be close together. Capricornus also hosts a dense cluster of stars, M30. A small telescope easily resolves individual stars in the cluster.


Comet Giacobini-Zinner, which became visible last month, should reach its brightest in September as it passes through the constellation of Auriga and between Gemini and Orion. It may be barely visible to the naked eye, but possible to see with binoculars. Look for the comet in the east after midnight.






The night sky is always a celestial showcase. Explore its wonders from your own backyard.






The following Deep Sky Objects are found in constellations that peak during the month. Some can be viewed with a small telescope, but the majority will require a moderate to large telescope. The following is adapted from my personal viewing list: "The Guy Pirro 777 Best and Brightest Deep Sky Objects."


Constellation: Aquarius

NGC 6981                    Globular Cluster         M72

NGC 6994                    Open Cluster             M73

NGC 7009                    Planetary Nebula        C55, Herschel 400 H1-4 Saturn Nebula

NGC 7089                    Globular Cluster         M2

NGC 7293                    Planetary Nebula        C63 Helix Nebula

NGC 7606                    Galaxy                      Herschel 400 H104-1

NGC 7723                    Galaxy                      Herschel 400 H110-1

NGC 7727                    Galaxy                      Herschel 400 H111-1

     - NGC 7724             Galaxy                              - Paired with H111-1



Constellation: Capricornus

NGC 7099                    Globular Cluster          M30                  



Constellation: Cepheus

Caldwell 9                   Diffuse Nebula              C9 Cave Nebula

IC 1396                        Open Cluster              P6 Elephant Trunk Cluster

NGC 40                        Planetary Nebula          C2 Herschel 400 H58-4 Bow Tie Nebula

NGC 188                      Open Cluster               C1

NGC 2300                    Galaxy                        P220

     - NGC 2276             Galaxy                              - Paired with P220

NGC 6939                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H42-6

NGC 6946                    Galaxy                        C12, Herschel 400 H76-4

NGC 7023                    Open Cluster               C4 Iris Nebular Cluster

NGC 7142                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H66-7

NGC 7160                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H67-8

NGC 7226                    Open Cluster               P140

NGC 7235                    Open Cluster               P7

NGC 7261                    Open Cluster               P8

NGC 7380                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H77-8

NGC 7510                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H44-7

NGC 7762                    Open Cluster               P141



Constellation: Lacerta

IC 1434                        Open Cluster              P159

IC 1442                        Open Cluster              P160

IC 5217                        Planetary Nebula         P230

NGC 7209                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H53-7

NGC 7243                    Open Cluster               C16, Herschel 400 H75-8

NGC 7245                    Open Cluster               P161

NGC 7296                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H41-7



Constellation: Pegasus

NGC 7078                    Globular Cluster          M15

NGC 7217                    Galaxy                       Herschel 400 H207-2

NGC 7331                    Galaxy                       C30, Herschel 400 H53-1

NGC 7448                    Galaxy                       Herschel 400 H251-2

NGC 7457                    Galaxy                       P173

NGC 7479                    Galaxy                       C44, Herschel 400 H55-1

NGC 7814                    Galaxy                       C43



Constellation: Sagittarius

IC 4684                        Diffuse Nebula           P182

IC 4725                        Open Cluster             M25

IC 4776                        Planetary Nebula        P183

NGC 6440                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H150-1

NGC 6445                    Planetary Nebula          Herschel 400 H586-2 Little Gem Nebula

NGC 6469                    Open Cluster               P184

NGC 6494                    Open Cluster               M23

NGC 6507                    Open Cluster               P185

NGC 6514                    Diffuse Nebula             M20, Herschel 400 H41-1 Trifid Nebula

NGC 6520                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H7-7

NGC 6522                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H49-1

NGC 6523                    Diffuse Nebula             M8 Lagoon Nebula

NGC 6528                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H200-2

NGC 6530                    Open Cluster               P49

NGC 6531                    Open Cluster               M21

NGC 6540                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H198-2

NGC 6544                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H197-2

NGC 6546                    Open Cluster               P106

NGC 6553                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H12-4

NGC 6558                    Globular Cluster          P107

NGC 6561                    Open Cluster               P186

NGC 6563                    Planetary Nebula          P187

NGC 6565                    Planetary Nebula          P248

NGC 6567                    Planetary Nebula          P188

NGC 6568                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H30-7

NGC 6569                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H201-2

NGC 6583                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H31-7

NGC 6590                    Open Cluster               P50

NGC 6603                    Open Cluster               M24 Small Sagittarius Star Cloud

NGC 6613                    Open Cluster               M18

NGC 6618                    Open Cluster               M17 Omega Nebula

NGC 6624                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H50-1

NGC 6626                    Globular Cluster          M28

NGC 6629                    Planetary Nebula         Herschel 400 H204-2

NGC 6637                    Globular Cluster          M69

NGC 6638                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H51-1

NGC 6642                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H205-2

NGC 6645                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H23-6

NGC 6647                    Open Cluster               P108

NGC 6652                    Globular Cluster          P31

NGC 6656                    Globular Cluster          M22

NGC 6681                    Globular Cluster          M70

NGC 6715                    Globular Cluster          M54

NGC 6716                    Open Cluster               P109

NGC 6717                    Globular Cluster          P110

NGC 6723                    Globular Cluster          P52

NGC 6809                    Globular Cluster          M55

NGC 6818                    Planetary Nebula         Herschel 400 H51-4

NGC 6822                    Galaxy                       C57 Barnard’s Galaxy

NGC 6864                    Globular Cluster          M75



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