September will make you smile
September 2004: Two modest comets cruise the evening sky while the bright planets rule the dawn. As the month comes to a close, the Full Moon lights up the harvest below.
Steady, transparent skies are a frequent hallmark of early autumn. For observers in much of the Northern Hemisphere, September ranks among the best months of the year — it's common to have good weather on at least half the nights.
This month, all the bright planets either hide behind the Sun or show up in the predawn sky. The faint outer trio — Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto — stay available for evening stargazers. Glowing at magnitude 5.7, Uranus is bright enough to detect without optical aid from the country. With binoculars, it's a snap to find from a suburban backyard. Not far from Uranus, and nearly as easy to locate, lies Vesta, the brightest of all asteroids.