Star Watch

Star Watch for September through December, 2019

The WCSU Planetarium and Observatory facility is OPEN for Public Nights on Saturday evenings during the Fall semester; dates and times are listed in the Nightly Sky Calendar (below).

The Observatory and Planetarium facility lies atop the hill between the Westside Campus Center and the Pinney Hall dormitory; the entrance road faces the front of Pinney Hall. The road’s entrance apron is steep; come into it from an angle to avoid bottoming out. Parking is available but very limited around the facility; more may be found on University Boulevard.

Public Night events may be cancelled due to severe weather; call (203) 837 – 8672 during the afternoon of a scheduled night for an update. Sky viewing cannot be held in cloudy or precipitating conditions, but planetarium shows are usually still held.

Planetarium shows are appropriate for adults and older children, but generally not for infants or toddlers. Seating for planetarium shows is first come first served, up to a maximum seating of 40.

 

*Notice: The planetarium show timings have changed for the following dates, Oct 4 & Oct 19, they are now from 3pm to 4pm.*

 

NIGHTLY SKY CALENDAR                                                                                                                                                      

*, !, !! – interesting to very interesting celestial event

E –  calendar or geometry- related event (such as an equinox)

 

Day Date Note Description
Thu Sept. 5 First Quarter Moon
Fri 6 * The waxing gibbous Moon passes near the planet Jupiter
Sat 7 ! A free Public Night will be held at the WCSU Observatory. It will start with a planetarium show from 7 to 8 p.m., followed (weather permitting) from 8 to 10 p.m. by viewing of objects in the night sky with our 20-inch telescope.
Sun 8 * The waxing gibbous Moon passes near the planet Saturn
Tue 10 * The planet Neptune reaches opposition, rising in the eastern sky around sunset and visible all night as Earth’s rotation shifts it westward. The blue planet, about 4 times Earth’s diameter, requires a telescope and a finding chart to be well observed. Neptune’s blue color comes from its methane atmosphere, which absorbs the red color of incoming sunlight and reflects the rest.
Fri 13 The Moon reaches apogee at 406,377 kilometers (252,511 miles) from Earth’s center
Sat 14 FULL Harvest MOON
Sat 21 Last Quarter Moon
Sat 21 ! A free Public Night will be held at the WCSU Observatory. It will start with a planetarium show from 7 to 8 p.m., followed (weather permitting) from 8 to 10 p.m. by viewing of objects in the night sky with our 20-inch telescope.
Mon 23 E The autumnal equinox (Sun shining directly down on Earth’s equator) occurs at 3:50 a.m.
Fri 27 The Moon reaches perigee at 357,802 kilometers (222,328 miles) from Earth’s center
Sat 28 New Moon
Thu Oct. 3 * The waxing crescent Moon passes near the planet Jupiter
Sat 5 * The First Quarter Moon passes near the planet Saturn
Sat 5 ! A free Public Night will be held at the WCSU Observatory. It will start with a planetarium show from 3 to 4 p.m., the telescope viewing has been cancelled.
Thu 10 The Moon reaches apogee at 405,899 kilometers (252,214 miles) from Earth’s center
Sun 13 FULL Hunter’s MOON
Sat 19 ! A free Public Night will be held at the WCSU Observatory. It will start with a planetarium show from 3 to 4 p.m., the telescope viewing has been cancelled.
Sun 20 ! The planet Mercury reaches a greatest elongation, 25 degrees east of the Sun. Look west after sunset to see it. Mercury will be visible around a week either side of the greatest elongation, closing rapidly with the Sun afterward.
Mon 21 Last Quarter Moon
Sat 26 The Moon reaches perigee at 361,311 kilometers (224,508 miles) from Earth’s center
Sun 27 New Moon
Sat Nov. 2 * The waxing crescent Moon passes near the planet Saturn
Sun 3 E At 2 a.m., set your clock back one hour. Eastern Standard Time (EST) resumes.
Mon 4 First Quarter Moon
Thu 7 The Moon reaches apogee at 405,058 kilometers (251,691 miles) from Earth’s center
Sat 9 ! A free Public Night will be held at the WCSU Observatory. It will start with a planetarium show from 5 to 6 p.m., followed (weather permitting) from 6 to 8 p.m. by viewing of objects in the night sky with our 20-inch telescope.
Mon 11 !! The transit of Mercury across the Sun’s disk begins around 7:35 a.m. and ends around 12:15 p.m. The planet is too small to be seen without a suitably filtered telescope; look for a tiny black dot that gradually changes position.
Tue 12 FULL Beaver MOON
Tue 19 Last Quarter Moon
Sat 23 The Moon reaches perigee at 366,716 kilometers (227,867 miles) from Earth’s center.
Sat 23 ! A free Public Night will be held at the WCSU Observatory. It will start with a planetarium show from 5 to 6 p.m., followed (weather permitting) from 6 to 8 p.m. by viewing of objects in the night sky with our 20-inch telescope.
Sun 24 * The brilliant planet Venus passes near the bright planet Jupiter
Tue 26 New Moon
Thu 28 ! The thin waxing crescent Moon passes near Jupiter and Venus
Thu 28 ! Mercury reaches greatest elongation 20 degrees west of the Sun, after its solar transit on Nov. 11. Look southeast before dawn.
Fri 29 * Saturn passes near the waxing crescent Moon
Wed Dec. 4 First Quarter Moon. The Moon reaches apogee at 404,446 kilometers (251,311 miles) from Earth’s center.
Sat 7 ! A free Public Night will be held at the WCSU Observatory. It will start with a planetarium show from 5 to 6 p.m., followed (weather permitting) from 6 to 8 p.m. by viewing of objects in the night sky with our 20-inch telescope.
Thu 12 FULL Cold MOON
Wed 18 Last Quarter Moon. The Moon reaches perigee at 370,265 kilometers (230,072 miles) from Earth’s center.
Sat 21 E The winter solstice (noon Sun lowest in Northern Hemisphere skies) occurs at 11:19pm
Sun 22 * The waning crescent Moon passes near the planet Mars
Thu 26 New Moon
Fri 27 * The slim waxing crescent Moon passes near Saturn
Sat 28 * The waxing crescent Moon passes near brilliant Venus

 

PLANETARY INFORMATION                                                                                                     

MERCURY started the autumn as a “morning planet,” reaching its greatest western elongation (angular distance 19 degrees) from the Sun on Aug. 9. It closed with the Sun since then (still as a pre-dawn object) and passed behind it in early September. Thereafter, Mercury is visible in the west after sunset as an “evening planet,” reaching greatest eastern elongation (25 degrees) on Oct. 20. But this elusive little planet still has some surprises! On Nov. 11 it will make a rare transit of the Sun’s disk, starting around 7:37 a.m. (EST) and lasting about 5 hours; in a telescope with a safe solar filter, Mercury will appear as a small black dot. Mercury gradually moves back into the pre-dawn sky, reaching greatest western elongation (20 degrees) on Nov. 28.

VENUS – After Aug, 14, when it moved behind the Sun, brilliant Venus has been making a slow transition from a pre-dawn object to an “evening planet.” Venus will get ever higher in the southwestern sunset sky during autumn. It will appear near Jupiter and Saturn during November and December.

MARS remains inconspicuous, low in the eastern pre-dawn sky, during the autumn and early winter months.

JUPITERin Ophiuchus, is visible low in the southwest after sunset during the autumn months, but it vanishes into the Sun’s glare by the start of winter.

SATURN – in Sagittarius, is visible in the south to southwest evening sky throughout the autumn. The planet’s rings make a beautiful sight in telescopes.


Star Watch is a service provided by the Earth and Planetary Sciences program at Western Connecticut State University. Thanks for connecting!