Dates and times shown are NZST (UT + 12 hours) up to September 26, NZDT (UT + 13 hours) from September 27. Rise and Set times are for Wellington. They will vary by a few minutes elsewhere in NZ. Data is adapted from that shown by GUIDE 9.1.

THE SUN and PLANETS in SEPTEMBER 2020, Rise & Set  Mag. & Cons.
          SEP 1        NZST           SEP 30        NZDT  
      Mag  Cons    Rise    Set     Mag  Cons    Rise    Set
SUN  -26.7  Leo   6.43am  5.58pm  -26.7  Vir   6.54am  7.27pm
Merc  -0.6  Leo   7.19am  7.02pm   -0.0  Vir   7.43am  9.43pm
Venus -4.3  Gem   4.27am  2.16pm   -4.1  Leo   5.20am  4.01pm
Mars  -1.8  Psc   9.43pm  9.05am   -2.5  Psc   8.38pm  8.02am
Jup   -2.6  Sgr   1.22pm  4.24am   -2.4  Sgr  12.29pm  3.31am
Sat    0.3  Sgr   2.04pm  4.53am    0.5  Sgr   1.07pm  3.57am
Uran   5.7  Ari  10.56pm  9.20am    5.7  Ari   9.59pm  8.25am
Nep    7.8  Aqr   6.38pm  7.22am    7.8  Aqr   5.40pm  6.26am
Pluto 14.5  Sgr   1.45pm  4.46am   14.5  Sgr  12.49pm  3.51am

              SEPTEMBER 1  NZST       SEPTEMBER 30  NZDT
Twilights    morning     evening       morning     evening
Civil:    start 6.18am, end 6.24pm   start 6.29am, end 7.53pm
Nautical: start 5.46am, end 6.56pm   start 5.56am, end 8.26pm
Astro:    start 5.14am, end 7.28pm   start 5.23am, end 9.00pm

  Full Moon:     Sep  2 at  5.22pm (05:22 UT)
  Last quarter:  Sep 10 at  9.26pm (09:26 UT)
  New Moon:      Sep 17 at 11.00pm (11:00 UT)
  First quarter: Sep 24 at  1.55pm (01:55 UT)


MERCURY is visible in the early evening sky, setting more than 2 hours after the Sun from the 20th onward. With a magnitude 0.0 it will be quite easily visible, magnitude about 0, low to the west an hour after sunset.

On the evening of September 22 the planet will be only 20 arc-minutes (two-thirds the diameter of the full moon) from Spica, magnitude 1.1. Three evenings earlier, on the 19th, the crescent moon will be 6° to the right of Mercury.

VENUS is a brilliant morning object rising more than 2 hours before the Sun early in the month. The planet is 19° north of the equator at first, so is fairly low to the northeast in NZ skies. By the end of September it will rise just over 90 minutes before the Sun. Venus will then have moved 6° to the south and so be a little higher in southern skies.

The crescent moon will be about 8° from Venus on the mornings of September 14 and 15.

MARS is in Pisces. Early in September it rises shortly before 10 pm, so best seen after midnight. By the end of September Mars rises earlier so will be well placed by late evening. The planet is getting bright, by the end of the month it is slightly brighter than Jupiter. The planet is stationary on September 10 (NZ time) at 5am.

The moon will be some 4° from Mars as seen from NZ late evening of September 6.

JUPITER and SATURN are both stationary during September, Jupiter on the 13th and Saturn on the 26th. As they start moving forward to the east again their apparent separation will start decreasing as Jupiter begins to catch up with Saturn. The two planets will be slow moving, just under 8° apart.

The moon will be just over a degree from Jupiter early evening on the 25th. They are closest about 7pm, just over a degree apart. Saturn is closest to the moon for the month some 14 hours later so after they set for NZ.

PLUTO remains between Jupiter and Saturn during September, somewhat closer to the latter. At magnitude 14.5 it will only be visible in a moderate telescope.

URANUS, in Aries, rises late evening during September. The moon is 4.5° from the planet at midnight on September 7. At magnitude 5.7, Uranus is an easy binocular object

NEPTUNE is at opposition on September 12, NZ time and so is visible almost the whole night. It will then be 28.9 AU, 4326 million km from the Earth. The moon passes Neptune twice in September, on the 3rd and on the 30th. The two will be separated by 3.9° both times.


                   SEP 1 NZST          SEP 30 NZDT  
                Mag  Cons  transit    Mag  Cons  transit
(1)  Ceres      7.7   Aqr  12.27am    8.2   PsA 11.12p
(4)  Vesta      8.4   Cnc  10.22am    8.4   Leo 10.18am
(8)  Flora      9.9   Cet   4.28am    8.7   Cet  3.45am

CERES is at opposition on September 2 with a magnitude 7.7. It is well south of the Equator so high in southern skies and visible through the night. Early in the month, Ceres is a little under 7° from the magnitude 1.23 star Fomalhaut. On the 1st the almost full moon is 12° the opposite side of Ceres to Fomalhaut

VESTA is a morning object rising some 70 minutes before the Sun on the 1st and 100 minutes before sunrise on the 30th. Like Venus it is well north of the equator so low to the northwest. On the morning of the 23rd Vesta will be 2° to the lower left of Venus, but 50 minutes before sunrise the asteroid will only be 6° above the horizon.

FLORA is a morning object which brightens to become a possible binocular object by late September. On the 30th it rises at 10 pm NZDT. Flora will then be 1.35° from the 2.5 magnitude star Menkar, alpha Cet.

Brian Loader



Go to top