Spring has arrived on Earth, but what can we expect in outer space this month? We spent August looking at the epic Perseids meteor shower, and in September, we have quite a display of planets in the sky, as well as the first all-civilian mission into space.
Here are all the space events coming up in September 2021.
September’s space highlights
SpaceX’s civilian mission
Inspiration4 is the world’s first private, all-civilian orbital mission, scheduled to launch on September 15. The civilian participants have received commercial astronaut training for a Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft.
The mission will raise money for the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Inspiration4 is commanded by Jared Isaacman, the CEO of Shift4 payments, and consists of three crew members: Hayley Arceneaux (physician assistant), Sian Proctor (geoscientist) and Chris Sembroski (engineer).
If you want more insight into the mission, Netflix is releasing a docuseries charting the training, launch and landing of the Inspiration4 mission. It will begin on September 6 and cover the launch in real time on September 15, with a final episode on the landing due later in September.
Distant planets make an appearance
This month, we’ll get a glimpse at some of our solar system’s most distant inhabitants.
On September 14, Neptune, the eighth planet in our system, will be at opposition. This means Earth is flying directly between the Sun and Neptune’s orbit.
This is the closest point Earth will be to Neptune all year, meaning it should be visible in the sky all night, but you’ll still need binoculars or a telescope to see it.
Uranus, the seventh planet from the Sun, will also cosy up to the Moon in September. Obviously, the Moon and Uranus won’t physically be any closer to each other, but viewing from Earth, they will come within 1°14′ on September 25.
It’s possible Uranus may even be viewable with the naked eye if skies are dark.
Other space events in September
- September 6 – New moon
- September 9 – the conjunction of the Moon and Venus
- September 14 – Neptune at opposition
- September 15 – SpaceX launches the Inspiration4 civilian mission
- September 16 – the conjunction of the Moon and Saturn
- September 18 – the conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter
- September 20 – Full moon (aka Harvest Moon)
- September 22 – Spring Equinox
- September 25 – close approach of Uranus and the Moon
Get out your telescopes (or fire up Netflix) and we’ll see you for Spacemodo in October!