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#astronomy This Weeks’ Sky at a Look, October 16 – 24 – Sky & Telescope

October 17, 2020 - Comment

The waxing Moon will align with Jupiter and Saturn on Wednesday this coming week, then it’s going to kind a neat triangle with them on Thursday. The form of that triangle could differ a bit for you; these scenes are drawn actual for a viewer close to the center of North America (at latitude 40°


Moon, Jupiter, and SaturnThe waxing Moon will align with Jupiter and Saturn on Wednesday this coming week, then it’s going to kind a neat triangle with them on Thursday.

The form of that triangle could differ a bit for you; these scenes are drawn actual for a viewer close to the center of North America (at latitude 40° N, longitude 90° W). Hour by hour, because the band of twilight crosses the continent from one time zone to the following, the Moon creeps noticeably eastward alongside its orbit towards the background stars and planets.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16

■ That is the time of yr when, after dusk, W-shaped Cassiopeia stands on finish midway up the northeastern sky — and when, off to its left within the north, the dim Little Dipper extends leftward from Polaris.

■ Jupiter’s Nice Pink Spot ought to transit Jupiter’s central meridian round 9:22 p.m. Jap Daylight Time.

An hour later, at 10:23 p.m. EDT, Jupiter’s moon Io reappears from eclipse out of Jupiter’s shadow simply east of the planet — very near Callisto, with Europa and Ganymede considerably farther out. A small telescope will present Io swelling into view over the course of a pair minutes, turning Callisto into an imitation double star.

■ New Moon (actual at three:31 p.m. EDT).

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 17

■ Look nearer at Cassiopeia excessive within the northeast, a W standing on finish. The third phase of the W, counting down from the highest, factors nearly straight down. Lengthen that phase twice as far down as its personal size, and also you’re on the Double Cluster in Perseus. This pair of star-swarms is dimly obvious to the unaided eye in a darkish sky (use averted imaginative and prescient), and it is seen from nearly wherever with binoculars. It is pretty in telescopes.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 18

■ After darkish, Capella sparkles low within the northeast. The farther north you might be, the upper it will likely be. (From the southern U.S., you will have to attend until a bit later within the night.) To the precise of Capella, by about three fists at arm’s size, the Pleiades are climbing into view. And shortly Aldebaran will rise beneath the Pleiades.

Higher proper of Capella, and higher left of the Pleiades, the celebs of Perseus lie astride the Milky Method.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 19

■ Vega is the brightest star very excessive within the west these evenings. Much less excessive within the southwest is Altair, not fairly as vivid. Simply higher proper of Altair, by a finger-width at arm’s size, spot little orange Tarazed. Down from Tarazed runs the stick-figure spine of the constellation Aquila, the Eagle. His wingtips are upraised, within the model of the Eagle Scout emblem. Altair is his sharp eye.

■ Look to Altair’s higher left by a bit greater than a fist at arm’s size, and there is the faint little constellation Delphinus, the Dolphin, leaping within the fringe of the Milky Method.

■ Delphinus sports activities some fascinating, little-known telescopic objects — from the Toadstool asterism Thompson 1 close to Iota Delphini, to the brightest non-Messier globular cluster within the northern celestial hemisphere (it is ninth magnitude), to the elusive NGC 6928 galaxy cluster (for large scopes; they’re magnitude 12.2 and fainter). Discover right here utilizing the Deep-Sky Wonders column and charts within the October Sky & Telescope, web page 56.

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 20

■ The Nice Sq. of Pegasus is excessive within the east-southeast after darkish — nonetheless, for now, balancing on one nook (for the world’s mid-northern latitudes).

■ The Orionid meteor bathe, modest however undoubtedly there, can be lively within the early-morning hours for a number of days. It needs to be at its strongest from about 1 or 2 a.m. till daybreak native time each Wednesday and Thursday mornings. You would possibly see about 10 meteors an hour beneath wonderful dark-sky circumstances, the nearer to daybreak the higher. The Moon may have lengthy set. The bathe’s radiant is on the prime of Orion’s Membership, which will get larger by the pre-dawn hours. The upper a meteor bathe’s radiant, the extra meteors seem in all elements of the sky.

If the late evening is evident bundle up very warmly (assume radiational cooling), deliver a reclining garden chair to a spot with an open view and no native lights to get in your eyes, lie again, and search for into the celebs. One of the best route to look at is the darkest a part of your sky, most likely straight up. Be affected person. Astronomy teaches endurance.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 21

■ The Moon, nearing first quarter, shines in a line with Saturn and Jupiter. It is to their decrease proper, as proven on the prime of this web page.

■ It is mid-October, so Deneb has changed Vega because the zenith star after dusk (for skywatchers at mid-northern latitudes). And so, essentially, Capricornus has changed Sagittarius because the zodiacal constellation due south.

■ Jupiter’s Nice Pink Spot ought to transit the planet’s central meridian round eight:31 p.m. EDT.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 22

■ Now the Moon varieties a somewhat tight triangle with Jupiter and Saturn, as proven on the prime of this web page.

■ That is the time of yr when the Massive Dipper lies down horizontal low within the north-northwest throughout night. How low? The farther south you might be, the decrease. Seen from 40° north (New York, Peoria, Denver) even its backside stars twinkle practically ten levels excessive. However at Miami (26° N), your entire Dipper skims alongside out of sight just under the northern horizon.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23

■ First-quarter Moon, actual at 9:23 a.m. Jap Daylight Time. By night, about half a day later (for North America), the Moon’s terminator may have turn into just a bit bit convex. The Moon will shine in dim Capricornus left of Jupiter and Saturn at nightfall, and higher left of them because the night grows late.

■ Jupiter’s Nice Pink Spot ought to transit Jupiter’s central meridian round 7:10 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. (The West Coast is having its good view of Jupiter round then.)

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 24

■ The Moon, a day and a half previous first quarter now, shines in Capricornus. It varieties the highest of a really extensive, flat, nearly isosceles triangle with Fomalhaut, about two fists to the Moon’s left and a bit decrease, and Saturn, about two fists to the Moon’s proper and a bit decrease. (Brighter Jupiter shines a bit past Saturn).

Fomalhaut and Saturn steadiness on the similar top round 9 p.m. daylight-saving time, relying in your location.

The Ghost of Summer season Suns. Halloween is approaching, and because of this Arcturus, the star glowing low within the west-northwest in twilight, is taking over its function as “the Ghost of Summer season Suns.” What does this imply? For a number of days centered on October 25th yearly, Arcturus occupies a particular place above your native panorama. It intently marks the spot the place the Solar stood on the similar time, by the clock, throughout sizzling June and July — in broad daylight, in fact!

So, as Halloween approaches yearly, you may see Arcturus because the chilly ghost of the departed summer season Solar.

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This Week’s Planet Roundup

Mercury is hidden within the glare the Solar.

Venus (magnitude –four.zero, between Leo and Virgo) rises within the east in deep darkness about 1½ hours earlier than daybreak begins. As soon as daybreak is beneath approach, Venus is in advantageous view as the intense “Morning Star” within the east. Look a couple of fist at arm’s size to its left or higher left for 2nd-magnitude Denebola, Leo’s tail-tip.

In a telescope Venus is a blinding little gibbous ball, simply 14 arcseconds from pole to pole.

Mars (about magnitude –2.four, in Pisces) handed by opposition on October 13th and remains to be a lot bigger and brighter than we normally see it. This week it shrinks just a bit, from 22 to 21 arcseconds in diameter. But it surely climbs into advantageous, excessive telescopic view earlier within the evening!

At nightfall Mars glares fiery orange, a hint greater than Jupiter-bright, low within the east. It is excessive within the southeast by 10 p.m. daylight-saving time, and it is highest at its telescopic greatest by midnight, blazing within the south.

Martian surface featuresSix Mars portraits taken over the previous three weeks present the present look of its albedo markings throughout the globe. Labeled are among the most outstanding ones seen in newbie telescopes. Credit: Damian Peach (prime left, proper); Mark Schmidt (prime center); Chris Go (backside left) and Anthony Wesley (backside center and proper)

See Bob King’s “A Nice Yr for Mars” within the October Sky & Telescope, web page 48, and his Behold Mars! article on-line. To get a map of the facet of Mars dealing with Earth on the date and time you will observe, you need to use our Mars Profiler. The map there’s sq.; keep in mind to mentally wrap it onto the facet of a globe. (Options close to the map’s edges turn into very foreshortened; examine with the photographs above.)

Jupiter and Saturn (magnitudes –2.2 and +zero.5, respectively) shine within the south-southwest in late nightfall. Get your telescope on them early earlier than they sink decrease towards the southwest later within the night.

Jupiter is the intense one; Saturn is 6° to its higher left. Watch them creep towards one another for the remainder of the autumn. They’re going to cross simply zero.1° aside at conjunction on December 21st, low in twilight, as fall turns to winter.

See Bob King’s Stormy Instances on Jupiter. And you may observe the interaction of Jupiter with its moons and their shadows, and discover all of the transit instances of Jupiter’s Nice Pink Spot, utilizing the Celestial Calendar part of the October Sky & Telescope.

JupiterJupiter on October fifth, imaged by Christopher Go at 10:29 UT. South is higher proper. Higher left of the Nice Pink Spot is giant, pale Oval BA. Observe the bluish darkish festoon bases within the Equatorial Zone. A lot of the EZ remains to be unusually tan somewhat than white.Jupiter in infraredSimply 1¼ day earlier, Glenn Orton at NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility imaged practically the identical facet of Jupiter within the mid-infrared (5.1 microns). Vibrant areas are warmth radiation shining out from Jupiter’s inside. Darker areas are the place high-altitude clouds block it. Evaluate the 2 photos. White and light-weight tan clouds are clearly the best ones, however so is the distinctive orange materials of the Nice Pink Spot.

The blue festoon bases, and smaller barely bluish markings at excessive latitudes, are areas of clear air that permit a considerably deeper view. And that is why, at seen wavelengths, they’re blue! Clear Jupiter-air preferentially scatters the blue wavelengths in daylight, identical to molecular scattering by clear air on Earth makes our personal sky blue.

Uranus (magnitude 5.7, in Aries) is effectively up within the east by 9 or 10 p.m. daylight-saving time, about 20° east of Mars. Uranus is barely three.7 arcseconds extensive, however that is sufficient to look as a tiny fuzzy ball, not a degree, at excessive energy in even a small telescope.

Neptune (magnitude 7.eight, in Aquarius) is a bit larger within the south at the moment. Neptune is 2.four arcseconds extensive, tougher to resolve besides in good seeing. Examine in on them while you’re accomplished with Mars: Finder charts for Uranus and Neptune.

All descriptions that relate to your horizon — together with the phrases up, down, proper, and left — are written for the world’s mid-northern latitudes. Descriptions that additionally rely upon longitude (primarily Moon positions) are for North America.

Jap Daylight Time, EDT, is Common Time minus four hours. (Common Time is also called UT, UTC, GMT, or Z time.)

Wish to turn into a greater astronomer? Be taught your approach across the constellations. They’re the important thing to finding every part fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope.

That is an out of doors nature interest. For an easy-to-use constellation information protecting the entire night sky, use the massive month-to-month map within the middle of every problem of Sky & Telescope, the important journal of astronomy.

When you get a telescope, to place it to good use you will want an in depth, large-scale sky atlas (set of charts). The fundamental customary is the Pocket Sky Atlas (in both the unique or Jumbo Version), which reveals stars to magnitude 7.6.

Pocket Sky Atlas cover, Jumbo editionThe Pocket Sky Atlas plots 30,796 stars to magnitude 7.6, and a whole bunch of telescopic galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae amongst them. Proven right here is the Jumbo Version, which is in exhausting covers and enlarged for simpler studying outdoor at evening. Pattern charts. Extra concerning the current new editions.

Subsequent up is the bigger and deeper Sky Atlas 2000.zero, plotting stars to magnitude eight.5; practically 3 times as many. The subsequent up, as soon as you already know your approach round, are the even bigger Interstellarum atlas (stars to magnitude 9.5) or Uranometria 2000.zero (stars to magnitude 9.75). And make sure you learn the best way to use sky charts with a telescope.

You may additionally desire a good deep-sky guidebook, reminiscent of Sky Atlas 2000.zero Companion by Robust and Sinnott, or the larger (and illustrated) Evening Sky Observer’s Information by Kepple and Sanner.

Can a computerized telescope change charts? Not for newcomers, I do not assume, and never on mounts and tripods which are lower than top-quality mechanically, which means heavy and costly. And as Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer say of their Yard Astronomer’s Information, “A full appreciation of the universe can’t come with out creating the abilities to search out issues within the sky and understanding how the sky works. This data comes solely by spending time beneath the celebs with star maps in hand.”

Audio sky tour. Out beneath the night sky together with your
earbuds in place, take heed to Kelly Beatty’s month-to-month
podcast tour of the heavens above. It is free.

“The hazards of not pondering clearly are a lot larger now than ever earlier than. It is not that there is one thing new in our mind-set, it is that credulous and confused pondering might be rather more deadly in methods it was by no means earlier than.”
            — Carl Sagan, 1996

“Information are cussed issues.”
            — John Adams, 1770



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