Home Valuable stamps The Night Sky: A Harvest Moon in Early Autumn

The Night Sky: A Harvest Moon in Early Autumn


DESPITE the delay in the planned launch of Artemis 1, Nasa remains optimistic that the mission will start soon, with Friday, September 2 being touted as a potential window.

A huge rocket, a “megarocket”, the largest ever built, will send a capsule on a mission that will circumnavigate the Moon and return home.

The uncrewed ‘Orion’ capsule marks the restart of NASA’s long liaison with the Moon with plans to eventually have a colony on the lunar surface, before venturing further into our solar system and to Mars.

The countdown continues towards the UK’s first space launch from Spaceport Cornwall in Newquay.

Using a modified Boeing 747 (named “Cosmic Girl”), the aircraft will launch a rocket to high altitude which will then carry a payload into space.

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit will send several small satellites into space.

One of these so-called ‘Cubesats’ will be the first entirely Welsh-built satellite named ForgeStar-0, the brainchild of Cardiff-headquartered Space Forge. A proud moment for Welsh engineering, part of the first launch into space from British soil.

James Webb Space Telescope

It was a monumental period in the advancement of space exploration as the James Webb Space Telescope peered further and deeper into our universe than ever before, marking the dawn of a new era.

Together, the JWST and the Hubble Space Telescope will continue to scan the stars and galaxies around us.

To commemorate this feat, astronomer and philatelist Katrin Raynor joins The night sky again with his own take on this special moment in history.

She said: “On July 11, astronomers, scientists and space enthusiasts everywhere waited excitedly for President Joe Biden to unveil the first deep-field image taken by JWST during a broadcast press conference. from the White House.

“The image was breathtaking and perhaps exceeded anyone’s expectations. The photograph is the deepest infrared photograph ever taken of the Universe featuring a cluster of galaxies in a southern constellation named Volans, the flying fish.

“The JWST launched on Christmas Day 2021 and is a collaboration between the European Space Agency, NASA and the Canadian Space Agency.

“Webb has a much larger mirror than Hubble covering a diameter of 6.5 meters compared to Hubble’s 2.4 meter mirror. The main mirror comprises 18 hexagonal mirror segments allowing for a larger light gathering area that can produce much more detailed and clearer photographs.

“When I heard the news that the United States Postal Service was releasing a series of stamps to celebrate the JWST, I was thrilled. This happened much sooner than expected and will be a welcome addition to the collection. of any astrophilatelist.

“The clarity and detail of the new images that Webb can produce should make for excellent future stamp issues. This is truly an exciting time for astronomy and philately, there is so much to look forward to and not just around of the JWST.

“I hope we will see stamp issues celebrating NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex mission which in 2023 will return samples from the asteroid Bennu to Earth and of course stamps celebrating humanity’s return to Earth. Moon in 2025 when NASA plans to send the first woman to the lunar surface!”

autumnal equinox

The autumnal equinox takes place on Friday, September 23, marking the end of summer. The Sun will cross the celestial equator heading south at 2:04 a.m.

harvest moon

Following the full August sturgeon moon, September sees the full harvest moon on the 10th. The full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox is called the Harvest Moon, and from the 8th to September 12, the moon will rise soon after sunset, creating an abundance of bright moonlight early in the evening, which was a traditional aid to help farmers harvest summer crops.


Mercury will be lost in the evening twilight in early September, but just at the end of the month the innermost planet will appear in the low eastern morning sky about 30 minutes before sunrise.

Venus continues to dazzle as the “morning star,” but its dominance begins to wane as it sinks deeper and deeper to the east-northeast before sunrise. However, the planet still offers a marvelous spectacle.

Mars is positioned in the south, rising around 10 p.m. The planet is in the constellation Taurus Taurus and on September 16, a waning gibbous Moon passes just over Mars, with the bright star Aldebaran in the lower right, and the Pleiades, (“Seven Sisters”), top right. Saturn is also positioned to the south, with a waxing gibbous Moon appearing nearby on the nights of September 7 and September 8 respectively.

Jupiter steals the show this month on the planetary plane, visible all night in the south and reaching its closest point to Earth (opposition) on September 26. For a cute couple, watch Jupiter and the Moon come together on 9/11. .

Planetary occultation

While Uranus is rarely mentioned in The night skythe planet, although difficult to locate, can be seen with the naked eye.

However, the reason for inclusion this month is that Uranus will be involved in a rare event. On the evening of September 14 between 10:27 p.m. and 11:20 p.m., the Moon will pass in front of Uranus. The last time such an occultation was visible from the UK was in 1953.

If you have a pair of binoculars or a telescope, the event is worth seeing, it is worth trying to capture the event.

As a guideline, Uranus will disappear from the left side of the Moon, just above the midpoint of the lunar limb. About 50 minutes later, the planet will reappear at roughly the same position but on the right side of the Moon.

Uranus will appear to all but the largest telescopes as just a dot, but it’s worth remembering that even at its closest to Earth the planet is still 2.6 billion kilometers from us, taking 84 Earth years to orbit. around the Sun.

NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft took more than nine years to reach the planet.

Light travels from Uranus to Earth in just under two and a half hours, so when we see the planet it is as it was two and a half hours ago. If you magnify that distance to the stars, it gives you an idea that in some cases the starlight that we see now left the star itself millions of years ago.

Company meetings

Barry Astronomical Society – ‘The Dangers of Asteroid Impacts on Earth – Should We Be Worried?’ by Matt Griffin – September 19 – 7:15 p.m. – Barry Community Centre.

Moon phases

  • First quarter September 3;
  • Full Moon September 10;
  • Third quarter September 17;
  • New Moon on September 25.

Sunrise/sunset times

  • Early September: The sun rises at 6:24 a.m. Takes place at 7:58 p.m.
  • End of September: The sun rises at 7:10 a.m. Takes place at 6:52 p.m.

South Wales Argus:

Jonathan is a contributor to BBC Sky at Night magazine with articles also published in Astronomy Now. He has written three books on astronomy, Cosmic Debris; Rare Astronomical Sights and Sounds (which was selected by ‘Choice’ magazine as an outstanding academic title for 2019); and From Cave Art to Hubble, all available on Amazon. Jonathan worked at BBC Radio Wales as an astronomy correspondent and was an astronomy and space correspondent for The National, (an online newspaper for Wales). He is currently a columnist at the South Wales Argus, and also a contributor to CAPCOM, an online magazine which promotes astronomy and spaceflight to the general public. He has also presented on commercial radio at Sunshine FM in Worcester, Brunel FM in Swindon and Bath FM, and has also presented on a dedicated astronomy and space radio station, Astro Radio UK. It is currently at 107.9 GTFM in South Wales. He has also written a book on castles, ‘Fortress Wales’, and was on the editorial staff of the BAFTA-winning BBC TV show ‘The Fast Show’.