Society News and Night Sky Notes – September 1998

Society News Headlines

  • Sept 1st – Comet C/1998 K2 (LINEAR) at Perhelion (2.323AU).
  • Sept 1st – A major solar storm hit the Earth on August 26th producing an impressive aurora display.
  • Sept 1st – Russian cosmonauts redock unmanned cargo ship, progress M-39.
  • Sept 1st – MGS spacecraft helps the study of small volcanoes on Mars.
  • Sept 1st – The most accurate telescope mirror ever made begins its journey to Hawaii.
  • Sept 3rd – Neptune 2° South of Moon.
  • Sept 4th – Uranus 3° South of Moon.
  • Sept 4th – Dr David Whitehouse, BBC science editor, says we should return to the Moon.
  • Sept 4th – Moon has much more water – say researchers.Findings are published in Science
  • Sept 4th – NASA engineers pin-point problems with Titan and Delta 3 rockets.
  • Sept 4th _ The next LAS Croxteth Park Public Star Party will be held between Nov 27th – 29th.
  • Sept 4th – BAA Out-of-London Weekend, University of Northumbria, Carlisle.(Ends Sept 6th)
  • Sept 4th – Public Open Meeting at LAS Pex Hill Observatory 19:30 – 21:30.
  • Sept 5th – Mission controllers got it wrong with SOHO. Major changes to result once full contact with spacecraft gained.
  • Sept 5th – North Korea claims to have launched a satellite or was it a missile?.
  • Sept 6th – British Association Festival of Science at Cardiff. (ends on Sept 11th).
  • Sept 6th – Penumbral Eclipse of the Moon.(Not visible from Liverpool) (link removed as URL is invalid).
  • Sept 6th – Venus 0.8° North of Regulus.
  • Sept 7th – Jupiter 0.57° North of Moon.
  • Sept 7th – New close-up views of Mercury. Click Here.
  • Sept 7th – Grabbing a piece of the Sun. The Genesis Mission.
  • Sept 8th – Supermassive Black Hole found in the center of our galaxy.
  • Sept 8th – Control of the SOHO spacecraft is now almost fully regained.
  • Sept 9th – Space shuttle Discovery moved to VAB sporting new look.
  • Sept 9th – “Snowball comets” are just spacecraft camera noise say Berkeley researchers.
  • Sept 9th – Piscids Meteor shower Max (ZHR 8 per hour). 2nd Max on 21st.
  • Sept 9th – Saturn 2° North of Moon.
  • Sept 10th – 12 US satellites are lost following Russian Zenit rocket lost after launch.
  • Sept 10th – Astronomers find giant dust cloud which may hide family of planets.
  • Sept 11th – LAS Members evening at the LAS Pex Hill Observatory 19:30 – 21:30.
  • Sept 11th – Horncastle Astronomy Weekend begins.(ends Sept 13th.)
  • Sept 11th – Mercury 0.4° North of Venus.
  • Sept 11th – New mirror heats up.Steward Observatory Mirror Lab.
  • Sept 12th – Phobos the dust covered Martian moon.
  • Sept 12th – Spacecraft behaving bizarrely.…”It’s the laws of Physics – they’re not right Capt”….
  • Sept 12th – Jodrell Bank searches for extraterrestrial civilisations.
  • Sept 12th – Ceres 0.9° South of Moon.
  • Sept 12th – Aldebaran 0.37° South of Moon.
  • Sept 12th – Jupiter at Opposition.
  • Sept 13th – Proposal to build space hotel out of discarded external fuel tanks from the Space Shuttle.
  • Sept 15th – Astronomers announce to-day new findings on the mystery of Jupiter’s ring system.
  • Sept 15th – Alpha Aurigids Meteor shower MAX. (10 per hourZHR).
  • Sept 15th – University of Minnesota chosen by NASA for 2001 space mission.
    The Inner Magnetosphere Explorer, (IMEX).
  • Sept 16th – Pallas at Opposition.
  • Sept 17th – Mars 27° North of Moon.
  • Sept 18th – Beware, the sky is falling, 8Km in 40 years has been measured.
  • Sept 18th – Whirlpool Star Party at Birr Castle, Ireland begins. (Ends Sept 20th).
  • Sept 18th – Liverpool Astronomical Society Cheese & Wine reception & Presidental Address. “Work of the LAS over the past 40 years”.
  • Sept 18th – A radio telescope larger than the Earth is used to look at objects 6.3 billion light years away.
  • Sept 18th – Regulus 0.6° North of Moon.
  • Sept 19th – The 4th Equinox Skycamp. (link removed as URL is invalid)
  • Sept 21st – Galileo images from its 9th orbit of Jupiter now available HERE.
  • Sept 21st – Oceans seen from Space.
  • Sept 21st – Hurricane Georges spares the Arecibo Observatory on Puerto Rico.
  • Sept 22nd – NASA to pick-up more bills from the Russian’s, 660 million dollars worth of extra funding is asked for.
  • Sept 22nd – The first ISS module for launch by space shuttle is shipped to launch area, for planned launch in December aboard STS-88.
  • Sept 22nd – Mars Global Surveyor begins aerobraking after control problems.
  • Sept 22nd – As space missions become longer, effects on the human body and mind need much more study.
  • Sept 23rd – Peering deep, deep into space with the Paranal Observatory.
  • Sept 23rd – Planets are doubling up.
  • Sept 23rd – Astronomers see solar system dust disks in Binary Star System.
  • Sept 23rd – Space Shuttle Discovery to shelter from storm force winds & rain.
  • Sept 23rd – Major display of aurora observed in Northern USA.
  • Sept 23rd – Autumn Equinox. (06h:37mBST)
  • Sept 24th – New Look for space shuttle Atlantis.
  • Sept 25th – Mercury in Superior conjunction.
  • Sept 25th – NASA’s space race slowing down and is boring says Newt Gingrich.
  • Sept 25th – Russia to launch Sun probe from MIR spacestation next year.
  • Sept 25th – Resupply of MIR is delayed again due to funding problems.
  • Sept 25th – Gravity explains why so many asteroids scare us.
  • Sept 25th – The Mars Global Surveyor shows spring weather on the Red Planet.
  • Sept 25th – Lord Archer would like to see two time zones in the UK.
  • Sept 25th – British student helps America’s to find planet around star HD 187123.
  • Sept 25th – New planet discovery research paper.
  • Sept 26th – Is astronomy worth it. Dr David Whitehouse reports for the BBC.
  • Sept 27th – Comet 88P/Howell at Perihelion (1.406).
  • Sept 27th – Radio astronomers locate magnetar.
  • Sept 27th – BBC 1 Sky at Night with Patrick Moore. Subject TBC. (rept BBC 2 Oct 3rd).
  • Sept 28th – Russia will continue to be in space station project despite its growing financial crisis.
  • Sept 28th – Comet Wirtanen imaged by Paranal observatory – Comet to be the subject of visit by ESA spacecraft Rosetta.
  • Sept 29th – Gamma Ray Burst hits Earth.
  • Sept 30th – Rollercoaster ride into space.
  • Sept 30th – Ozone hole reaches new record size.
  • Sept 30th – Neptune 27° South of Moon.


Will it be cloudy to-night?, ask the The U.K. Goverment Met Office Weather service.
To make your own star chart fo your location at any time, Click Here.

The Sun and Moon

All times are in BRITISH SUMMER TIME (BST). Times For Observer in Liverpool, Merseyside, England, U.K.

Latitude 53 degs 24 mins North.
Longitude +3.0 degs West.


            3rd          8th         13th       18th       23rd        28th         3rd Oct
SUNRISE    06:24        06:33       06:42      06:50      06:59       07:08         07:17
SUNSET     19:57        19:45       19:33      19:21      19:09       19:57         18:45

on 28th
at 22h:12m


on 6th
at 12h:22m


on 13th
at 02h:59m


on 20th
at 11h:10m



The autumn equinox occurs on the 23rd. This is when the Sun crosses the celestial equator heading south towards the winter solstice in December. At this time, from any point on the Earth’s Surface day and night are of Equal length



At the start of the month Mercury can be found nearly 10° above the North East horizon about 45 minutes before sunrise. On the 8th Mercury is 49′ North of the naked eye star Regulus in the constellation of LEO and on the 11th at 05h:00m Mercury is 20′ North of Venus.Superior conjunction is on the 25th.

Diagram of Morning Sky Apparition of Mercury - August/September 1998

Diagram of Morning Sky Apparition of Mercury – August/September 1998
Click On Map for further details.


Venus speeds towards the Sun but it will be visible above the eastern horizon almost up until sunrise until early next month. On the 19th at 19h:00m Venus lies 1° North of the Moon.


On the 1st of the month Mars passes a mere 30′ South of the open star cluster M44 in Cancer. Try to observe every morning a week before and a week after to catch a rather swift passage. As Mars does not rise until 03h:00m you will need to be an early riser.!

MARSWATCH – latest observations of the red planet.


A bonus for observers of Jupiter this month is that one of the largest asteroids pays it a visit this month. This small map shows PALLAS tracking southwards, passing less than a degree North of Jupiter on the 23rd. A series of observations with binoculars or a telescope. recorded either on paper or on film, will reveal the asteroid’s changing position with respect to Jupiter and background stars of Aquarius.

Finder Chart for Pallas near Jupiter.From Sky Publishing com.

For More information on Asteroids Click Here.


Jupiter, drawn by Ken Clarke, as viewed through a 10″ F4.3 Reflector, 308x. w1=54deg, w2=141deg, seeing 2/5, at 21:00 UTC on April 22nd, 1991

Jupiter, drawn by Ken Clarke, as viewed through a 10″ F4.3 Reflector, 308x. w1=54deg, w2=141deg, seeing 2/5, at 21:00 UTC on April 22nd, 1991

Drawing of Jupiter © Ken Clarke.

Talking of Jupiter, the giant gas planet is at opposition on the 16th and now is therefre the best time to make use of a large bright disk, to observe the Solar System’s largest planet and the ever-changing positions of its four largest moons. Even a pair of 10×50 binoculars will reveal the disk and the satellites.

Launched in October 1989, the Galileo Jupiter Probe entered orbit around the great planet on December 7th 1995. The Project Galileo Homepage will give you up-to-date information and the very latest images returned.


Saturn rises well before midnight now and passes 3° North of the Moon on the 9th in the constellation of Pisces.


Both outer gas planets are still favourable objects during the month.

Uranus can be found due South at 22h:20m in the constellation Capricornus.
Neptune is much fainter than Uranus and is more of a challenge to locate and observe. Laying due South at 21h:30m in the constellation Sagittarius.

Uranus Positions for the 1st September:
                          R.A.                   DEC                    TRANSIT TIME           MAG
                      20h:49m:15s           -18°:28':42"                   22h:20m             5.7

Neptune Positions for the 1st September:
                          R.A.                   DEC                    TRANSIT TIME           MAG
                      20h:07m:39s           -19°:51':20"                   21h:30m             7.9



Pluto is now not favourable for observations until next year.


  • Alpha-Aurigids on Sept 15th ( 10per hour) Fairly favourable.
  • Piscids on Sept 9th & 21st Double radiant-(8 per hour):
    • 9th – Unfavourable/MOON 18 days old.
    • 21st – Favourable/MOON 6 days old.


Plus these pages will give daily and weekly reports of this and other Comets progress.


  • Sept 5th at 22h:15m:45s Disappearance of Sigma Aquarii
  • Sept 12th at 05h:25m:38s Reappearance of 71 Tauri
  • Sept 13th at 05h:06m:29s Reappearance of 111 Tauri