Sky and Telescope - September 2018 - 48

SEPTEMBER 2018 OBSERVING
Celestial Calendar by S. N. Johnson-Roehr

Gas Giant Season
Uranus and Neptune return to the evening sky.
_

a

d
ARIES
Path of
Uranus

j
PISCES

+10°

c

k

j1

¡

b

t

e

f
i

a
_
h

g

Star magnitudes

0°
3

CETUS

4
5
6
7

e

2h 00m

h
s2

1h 30m

M

d

any observers look forward to the
arrival of autumn, when night
falls earlier and darkness lasts longer.
Autumn also marks the return of the
gas giants to the evening sky, at least for
the foreseeable future. Neptune arrives
at opposition on September 7th, Uranus
on October 23rd, so we've reached the
ideal part of the calendar for observing them. During the next few months,
Uranus is in the southwest corner of
Aries (it visits Pisces in December and
January) while Neptune is in Aquarius.
The charts here show their positions
south and east-southeast of the Great
Square of Pegasus.
If you poll people at your next star
party, you may discover that many will
have seen Uranus, but few will have
S E P TE M B E R 2 018 * SK Y & TELESCOPE

Path of Neptune

f

c

- 10°

48

q

AQUARIUS

1h 00m

0h 30m

0h 00m

23h 30m

s1
23h 00m

The chart above spans almost 60º, or 4 hours of right ascension, beneath
the Great Square of Pegasus. On the smaller, deeper finder charts on the
facing page, use the ticks marking the start of each month to determine the
position of each planet for your observing date.

seen Neptune. Uranus is a much easier
target. It's still a late-night object in
September; by mid-month, it's about
30° high at 11 p.m. local time. As
opposition draws closer, it stands higher
earlier in the evening. At magnitude
5.7, Uranus is technically a naked-eye
object, but dark, transparent skies are
needed to see it without optical aid. It's
easily discernible as an "extra star" in
the field of view of binoculars, however.

It's a long star-hop to the planet
from the brighter stars in Aries, so you
may begin your journey at Omicron
(ο) Piscium. Uranus appears 3.7″ wide
through mid-December, which means
that under magnification it will look
slightly fatter than the surrounding
stars. It may even show a hint of cyan.
More aperture and magnification will
draw out the turquoise, though color
perception is subjective.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Sky and Telescope - September 2018

Contents
Sky and Telescope - September 2018 - Cover1
Sky and Telescope - September 2018 - Cover2
Sky and Telescope - September 2018 - 1
Sky and Telescope - September 2018 - Contents
Sky and Telescope - September 2018 - 3
Sky and Telescope - September 2018 - 4
Sky and Telescope - September 2018 - 5
Sky and Telescope - September 2018 - 6
Sky and Telescope - September 2018 - 7
Sky and Telescope - September 2018 - 8
Sky and Telescope - September 2018 - 9
Sky and Telescope - September 2018 - 10
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Sky and Telescope - September 2018 - Cover4
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