This Week’s Sky at a Glance, October 2 – 10 – Sky & Telescope


■ Moon and Mars. The Moon this night, a day previous full, rises in mid-twilight with brilliant Mars by its facet! After darkish they make a placing pair, just one° or 2° aside for North Americans. Think photograph alternative.

Later within the night time, watch as they slowly draw farther aside. Although they appear to be companions, Mars tonight is 155 occasions farther away than the Moon. And though Mars appears to be like tiny, it is twice the Moon’s diameter.The Moon will really occult Mars for components of southern South America; map and particulars.

■ Before and through early daybreak Saturday, Regulus shall be snuggling 0.6° above Venus (at daybreak for North America) as sh0wn under. That’s concerning the width of a pencil held at arm’s size.Regulus, regardless that it is 1st magnitude, is lower than a hundredth as brilliant as Venus, magnitude –4.1. So look early whereas the sky remains to be fairly darkish. Closer to dawn use binoculars or, higher, a telescope (at not more than about 75 energy).

On Friday morning October 2nd, Regulus was a bit under Venus. Now on Saturday morning the third Regulus shall be about equally far above it (for North Americans). The precise conjunction, after they handed a mere 0.09° aside, occurred at 0h October third Universal Time, when skywatchers in central and south Asia had their early-daybreak view.SATURDAY, OCTOBER 3

■ Now the Moon rises close to the tip of twilight, with Mars blazing brightly about a fist at arm’s size to its higher proper.

■ With fall nicely underneath manner, Algol is nicely up within the northeast after darkish. Normally it shines at magnitude 2.1, however this night it goes by way of one among its periodic self-eclipses: It needs to be as faint as magnitude 3.Four for a couple hours centered on 9:48 p.m. EDT. Algol takes a number of extra hours to fade and to rebrighten.Compare it to Gamma Andromedae, magnitude 2.1, about a fist at arm’s size to its higher proper. And see Bob King’s When Algol Winks, Will You Wink Back?


■ Arcturus shines low within the west these evenings as twilight fades out. Capella, equally brilliant, is decrease within the north-northeast (relying in your latitude; the farther north you’re the increased it will likely be.) They’re each magnitude 0.

Not lengthy after full darkish, Arcturus and Capella shine at the identical peak. When will this occur? That relies on each your latitude and longitude.

When it does, flip round and look low within the south-southeast. There shall be 1st-magnitude Fomalhaut at the identical peak too — if you happen to’re at latitude 43° north (Boston, Buffalo, Milwaukee, Boise, Eugene). Seen from south of that latitude, Fomalhaut will seem increased than Capella and Arcturus are. Seen from north of there, it will likely be decrease.

■ Jupiter’s Great Red Spot ought to transit the planet’s central meridian round 9:24 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.


■ By 10 p.m. tonight (daylight-saving time) the waning gibbous Moon is up within the east. Look higher left of it for the Pleiades and decrease left of it for orange Aldebaran.


■ This is the precise date when Mars is closest to Earth: 0.415 a.u (38.6 million miles; 3.5 gentle-minutes). It will not cross us that shut once more till September 2035. How previous will you be then?

■ Vega is the brightest star very excessive within the west at dusk, nearly overhead. Arcturus, equally brilliant, is getting low within the west-northwest. The brightest star within the huge expanse between them, about a third of the best way from Arcturus up towards Vega, is Alphecca, magnitude 2.2 — the crown jewel of Corona Borealis. Alphecca is a 17-day eclipsing binary, however its brightness dips are too slight for the attention to see reliably.

■ Jupiter’s Great Red Spot ought to transit Jupiter’s central meridian round 11:03 p.m. EDT.


■ The starry W of Cassiopeia stands excessive within the northeast these evenings, practically on finish. Look alongside the second section of the W counting down from the highest. Notice the dim bare-eye stars alongside that section (not counting its two ends). The brightest of those, on the proper, is Eta Cassiopeiae, magnitude 3.4. It’s a remarkably Sun-like star simply 19 gentle-years away, and it has a distant orange-dwarf companion, magnitude 7.3. They’re a beautiful binary in a telescope.

The subsequent “one” down the section, fainter, is a bare-eye pair in a darkish sky: Upsilon1 and Upsilon2 Cassiopeiae, 0.3° aside. They’re yellow-orange giants unrelated to one another, 200 and 400 gentle-years distant. Upsilon1 is barely fainter; that is the farther one.


■ Vega is the brightest star very excessive within the west these evenings. To its decrease proper by 14° (practically a fist and a half at arm’s size) is Eltanin, the orange nostril of Draco the Dragon. The remainder of Draco’s fainter, lozenge-formed head is a little farther behind. Draco at all times eyes Vega as they wheel across the sky.The foremost stars of Vega’s personal constellation, Lyra — fairly faint by comparability — now lengthen to its left (by 7°).


■ Last-quarter Moon (precise at 8:40 p.m. EDT). The Moon rises round 11 or midnight tonight native time. Once it does, search for Pollux a few levels to its left and Castor above Pollux. Way excessive above them at that point is Capella. Far to their proper, Orion is on the best way up. By daybreak Saturday morning the 10th, the Moon stands excessive within the southeast — with the Gemini twin stars glimmering to its higher left and brighter Procyon farther to its decrease proper, as proven under.

The excessive waning Moon at daybreak steps by way of Gemini.■ Io reappears out of eclipse from Jupiter’s shadow round 8:27 p.m. EDT. Watch it slowly glimmer into view a little east of the planet.

Right round that very same time, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot needs to be transiting Jupiter’s central meridian.


■ The Great Square of Pegasus balances on its nook excessive within the east at dusk. For your location, when it’s precisely balanced? That is, when is the Square’s prime nook precisely above its backside nook? This shall be someday quickly after the tip of twilight, relying in your latitude. Try lining up the celebrities with the vertical fringe of a constructing as a measuring device. How precisely are you able to time this occasion?


This Week’s Planet Roundup

Mercury is nearing the tip of a very low, poor apparition deep within the sundown. It’s nonetheless a respectable magnitude 0.0, nonetheless, so go forward and check out. Bring binoculars. About 15 minutes after sundown whereas twilight remains to be brilliant, scan for Mercury simply above the west-southwest horizon. Good luck.

Venus (magnitude –4.1, in Leo) rises in deep darkness nearly two hours earlier than daybreak begins, within the east-northeast. By the time daybreak will get underneath manner, Venus shines prominently within the east.While the sky remains to be darkish, spot Regulus above Venus or to its higher proper. They separate quickly this week, from 0.6° aside on the morning of the third to 9° on October 10th. In a telescope, Venus continues to shrink slowly into the space; it is now solely 15 arcseconds in diameter. And it is rising extra gibbous, about 73% sunlit, because it rounds towards passing behind the Sun subsequent winter.

Mars is closest to Earth this week! (It’s precisely so on October sixth). And, as Mars visits go, this one is very shut; Mars seems 22.6 arcseconds large. It will not be as shut and massive once more till September 2035.

Mars’s opposition comes a week later, on the 13th.Mars rises in early twilight. As night time comes on it glares fiery orange and Jupiter-bright (magnitude –2.5) low within the east. It climbs increased because the hours cross, then blazes at its highest and telescopic greatest round 1 a.m. daylight-saving time, beaming down from excessive within the south in Pisces.

See Bob King’s “A Great Year for Mars” within the October Sky & Telescope, web page 48. To get a map of the facet of Mars going through Earth at the date and time you may observe, you need to use our Mars Profiler. The map there may be sq.; bear in mind to mentally wrap it onto the facet of a globe. (Features close to the map’s edges grow to be very foreshortened.)

Mars on August 27th, imaged at very excessive decision by Enrico Enzmann and Damian Peach with a 76-cm (30-inch) telescope. South is up. Dark Syrtis Major juts down from heart. Upper left of it’s darkish Mare Tyrrhenum. Above them is the massive, round Hellas Basin, lighter in colour however not as brilliant as when it is full of cloud or frost. Sinus Meridiani is at the middle of the proper-hand (morning) limb.Another facet of Mars, imaged by Peach on September 11 with a 250-cm (10-inch) Mewlon Dall-Kirkham telescope. Dark Mare Sirenum and Mare Cimmerium lengthen to the proper and much proper, respectively. The South Polar Cap seems even smaller than earlier than. Some of the grey South Polar Cloud Hood extends round from the underside limb. Left of heart, the pair of small, weak whitish marks are orographic cloud at Arsia Mons, says Peach.Jupiter and Saturn (magnitudes –2.Three and +0.5, respectively) shine within the south throughout nightfall and early night, then they transfer to the southwest as night grows late, tilting as they go.Jupiter is the brilliant one; Saturn is 7° to its left. Watch the 2 planets progressively edge collectively for the remainder of the autumn. They will cross simply 0.1° from one another at conjunction on December 21st, low in twilight, as fall turns to winter. Telescopically there’s a lot taking place on Jupiter now; see Bob King’s Stormy Times on Jupiter. And you’ll be able to comply with the interaction of Jupiter with its moons and their shadows, and discover the transit occasions of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, utilizing the Celestial Calendar part of the present Sky & Telescope.

Jupiter on August 23rd, imaged by Christopher Go at 11:28 UT. South right here is up. Dark “eyeliner” edges the north facet of the Red Spot Hollow. Just above the Red Spot is giant, pale Oval BA adopted on its decrease proper by a line of blackish turbulence. Broad, bluish festoon bases line the south fringe of the reddish, chaotic North Equatorial Belt. And farther under, discover the white upwelling outbreak within the slim North Tropical Zone.Skilled, nicely-outfitted amateurs like Go can seize extraordinary planetary element by considered use of video-picture stacking and processing. For comparability, right here is a Hubble picture of Jupiter taken two days later displaying practically the identical face (full-res model), with the distinction and the colour distinction boosted manner up for appears to be like. The Hubble is a tremendous-subtle 92-inch telescope above the environment in vacuum. Go, who lives in Cebu City, Philippines, makes use of a industrial 14-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope from his house balcony!Nearly the identical face of Jupiter imaged by Go 21 days later, on September 13th. Loads has modified. Oval BA and its turbulent wake have moved a bit left (towards “preceding”) with respect to the Red Spot, and the Red Spot’s “eyeliner” has damaged up. Meanwhile far under, the white North Tropical Zone outbreak has raced far to the left with respect to the Red Spot and is trailing a very lengthy plume of combined brilliant and darkish materials. “Jupiter is very busy these days,” writes Go. How many different adjustments can you discover?Uranus (magnitude 5.7, in Aries) is pretty nicely up within the east by 10 p.m. daylight-saving time, about 16° east of Mars. Uranus is barely 3.7 arcseconds large, however that is sufficient to look as a tiny fuzzy ball, not a level, at excessive energy in even a small telescope.

Neptune (magnitude 7.8, in Aquarius) is increased within the south-southeast at that point. Neptune is 2.Four arcseconds large, tougher to resolve besides in good seeing. 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 depend upon longitude (primarily Moon positions) are for North America.

Eastern Daylight Time, EDT, is Universal Time minus Four hours. (Universal Time is often known as UT, UTC, GMT, or Z time.)

Want to grow to be a higher astronomer? Learn your manner across the constellations. They’re the important thing to finding every part fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope.

This is an out of doors nature passion. For a simple-to-use constellation information overlaying the entire night sky, use the massive month-to-month map within the heart of every difficulty of Sky & Telescope, the important journal of astronomy.

Once you get a telescope, to place it to good use you may want a detailed, giant-scale sky atlas (set of charts). The primary normal is the Pocket Sky Atlas (in both the unique or Jumbo Edition), which reveals stars to magnitude 7.6.

The Pocket Sky Atlas plots 30,796 stars to magnitude 7.6, and a whole lot of telescopic galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae amongst them. Shown right here is the Jumbo Edition, which is in laborious covers and enlarged for simpler studying open air at night time. Sample charts. More concerning the current new editions.Next up is the bigger and deeper Sky Atlas 2000.0, plotting stars to magnitude 8.5; practically thrice as many. The subsequent up, as soon as your manner round, are the even bigger Interstellarum atlas (stars to magnitude 9.5) or Uranometria 2000.0 (stars to magnitude 9.75). And you’ll want to learn learn how to use sky charts with a telescope.

You’ll additionally need a good deep-sky guidebook, corresponding to Sky Atlas 2000.0 Companion by Strong and Sinnott, or the larger (and illustrated) Night Sky Observer’s Guide by Kepple and Sanner.

Can a computerized telescope change charts? Not for rookies, I do not assume, and never on mounts and tripods which are lower than prime-high quality mechanically, which means heavy and costly. And as Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer say of their Backyard Astronomer’s Guide, “A full appreciation of the universe cannot come without developing the skills to find things in the sky and understanding how the sky works. This knowledge comes only by spending time under the stars with star maps in hand.”

Audio sky tour. Out underneath the night sky with yourearbuds in place, take heed to Kelly Beatty’s monthlypodcast tour of the heavens above. It’s free.

“The dangers of not thinking clearly are much greater now than ever before. It’s not that there’s something new in our way of thinking, it’s that credulous and confused thinking can be much more lethal in ways it was never before.”            — Carl Sagan, 1996

“Facts are stubborn things.”            — John Adams, 1770

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