October 2015

To see a video of this information, go to my YouTube Channel

 

October is the month for getting out and checking out the fall and winter constellations as the nights get darker sooner.  Additionally, the mornings get interesting with Jupiter, Mars, and Venus dancing around each other, and the Orionid meteor shower pops up as well.

 

PLANETS...well, the ones visible with your naked eye

Planets you can see around Sunset – Saturn (SW)

Planets you can see throughout the night – None

Planets you can see in the Morning – Venus (E), Mars (E), Jupiter (E)

 

Mercury – Makes a quick appearance in the middle of the month at sunrise, but not really worth looking for this month.

Venus, Mars, & Jupiter It’s just so much easier to do this with pictures…At 6:30am…

Saturn – Saturn is VERY low the SW after sunset sets by about 8pm. It’ll be the bright point of light in the post-sunset sky, very low on the horizon once it gets dark.  See if you can see Saturn’s rings through binoculars or a telescope.  Close to the Moon on the 15th & 16th. 

EVENTS...

Last Quarter Moon – 4th (Visible from midnight into the morning)

8th – 9thClose Encounter – Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter – On the 8th, the Moon tops a line of planets in the sunrise sky, with Jupiter at the bottom, barely visible Mars 4˚ higher, bright Venus 10˚ higher than Mars, and the Moon 4˚ above that. Then the next morning, the Moon hops into the gathering of planets, sitting about 4˚ to the right of Mars. Bring binoculars and look toward the eastern horizon between 4am and sunrise (7am).  The earlier, the better.

New Moon – 12th (darkest skies)

16thClose Encounter – Moon, Saturn – Get out after sunset and look SW for a nice crescent Moon with Saturn 3˚ below and to the right. By 8:30pm, they’ll be in the West setting.

18th – ConjunctionMars & Jupiter – Look east between 5am and sunrise (the earlier the better), and you’ll find Jupiter about ½˚ away from Mars.  You may be able to get them into one picture through a telescope.

First Quarter Moon – 20th (Visible until midnight)

20th – 22ndOrionid Meteor Shower - Technically it’s active all month, but during the peak it’ll produce about 20 fast and faint meteors under dark skies.  The Moon will indeed be out as a Waning Gibbous, making this not such a good time to see them.  The best time to look for these are in the early morning.  If you’ve got the patience (and a jacket), go out on the mornings of the 20th – 22nd and look above Orion to his “club” asterism.

Some advice for watching:

Find a dark location, Lie down in a reclining chair or swimming pool floaty

Look toward Orion. That is where the radiant is - where the meteors will appear to be coming from.  Keep a wide eye and try to take in the whole sky, instead of staring at one spot or through binoculars or a telescope.

Dress in multiple layers and bring hot chocolate Check the weather to see if the skies will be clear (weather.com has a good map here)

Adapt your eyes to the dark by staying away from light sources or using a red light if you need to look at a star chart or not trip over something. 

25thClose EncounterJupiter & Venus – Look east between 5am and sunrise (the earlier the better), and you’ll find Jupiter about 2˚ away from bright Venus.  Mars shine more dimly below them, with Regulus (Leo’s brightest star) far above them.

Full Moon – 27th (Visible all night)           

 

CONSTELLATIONS... (see sky map link at the bottom for a Star Map for this month – or ask Mr. Webb)    Look straight up and you'll see...

Just after Sunset (sunset is around 6:30pm) – Cygnus the Swan and Lyra the Harp

Between Sunset and Midnight – Lacerta, Pegasus (the Great Square)

Midnight – Pegasus, Andromeda - Extra Challenge!  Using your naked eye (dark-adapted and in a dark area) or binoculars under normal conditions and a star chart, try finding our neighboring Andromeda Galaxy.  It’ll be a faint, but bigger, fuzzy in the constellation Andromeda.

Early Morning – Auriga, Gemini - Extra Challenge!  Using binoculars, find the bright and open cluster M35.  Find Gemini, look at the rightmost leg, go down to the foot, and move 2-3 degrees to the right (W).

GENERAL CONSTELLATION FINDING TIPS: 

Summer Constellations: Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila, Delphinus

Look up after sunset and you’ll be able to see Lyra (the Harp), Cygnus (the Swan), Aquila (the Eagle), (and Delphinus the Dolphin.)  These three constellations have the three brightest stars of the summer constellations (Vega, Deneb, Altair – respectively.)  Those bright stars create the summer triangle.  Off to the east of this is the small but beautiful constellation of Delphinus. Being summer constellations and it being fall right now, they are setting and are visible for a shorter period of time each day.  If you’re under dark skies (away from city lights) you may just catch a glimpse of the Milky Way passing through Cygnus and Aquila.

Fall Constellations: Andromeda, Pegasus

If you can find the Summer Triangle and Delphinus, about 40˚ to the East (leftish) will be the Great Square of the fall constellation Pegasus.  Perhaps you’ll even see the two curves of Andromeda off of one side, with the Andromeda Galaxy as a small, faint fuzzy nearby (you’ll need dark skies to see it).  A sky map will help you tremendously in finding these.  You’ll see these in the East after sunset, straight above you around midnight, and in the West in the morning.

Use a sky map from www.skymaps.com to help you out.

 

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