This Week’s Sky at a Glance, October 23 – 31 – Sky & Telescope

This coming week the Moon waxes from first quarter to full. On Wednesday via Friday the 28th via 30th, the Moon will step previous Mars, which stays unusually shut and vibrant.FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23

■ First-quarter Moon, actual at 9:23 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. By night, about half a day later for North America, the Moon’s terminator will likely be simply a 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 Great Red 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.)


■ The Moon, now a day and a half previous first quarter, shines in Capricornus. It types the highest of a very vast, flat, virtually isosceles triangle with Fomalhaut, about two fists at arm’s size to the Moon’s left and a little decrease, and Saturn, about two fists to the Moon’s proper and a little decrease. Brighter Jupiter shines a little past Saturn.

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


■ The ghost of Summer Suns. Halloween is approaching, and which means Arcturus, the star glowing low within the west-northwest in twilight, is taking over its function as “the Ghost of Summer 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 Sun stood at the identical time, by the clock, throughout scorching June and July — in broad daylight, after all!So, as Halloween approaches yearly, you may see Arcturus in twilight because the chilly ghost of the departed summer season Sun.


■ After darkish, Capella sparkles low within the northeast. The farther north you might be, the upper will probably be. To the suitable of Capella, by about three fists at arm’s size, the Pleiades are climbing into view. And quickly Aldebaran will rise beneath the Pleiades.Upper proper of Capella, and higher left of the Pleiades, the celebs of Perseus lie astride the Milky Way.


■ The waxing gibbous Moon shines within the southeast after darkish. Way to its left is fireplace-coloured Mars. A bit of farther to the Moon’s decrease proper, you will discover Fomalhaut. And considerably nearer beneath the Moon is Beta Ceti or Diphda, much less vibrant.A sky landmark to recollect: Once you discover the Great Square of Pegasus (excessive above the Moon tonight and perhaps a bit left), its east and west sides all the time level down roughly to Beta Ceti and Fomalhaut, respectively.


■ The Summer Triangle Effect. Here it’s the finish of October, however Deneb nonetheless shines proper close to the zenith as the celebs come out. And brighter Vega continues to be not removed from the zenith, towards the west. And the third star of the “Summer” Triangle, Altair, stays very excessive within the southwest (excessive over Jupiter and Saturn). They appear to have been there for a couple months! Why have they stalled out?What you are seeing is the results of sundown and darkness arriving earlier and earlier throughout autumn. Which means in the event you exit and starwatch quickly after darkish, you are doing it earlier and earlier by the clock. This counteracts the seasonal westward turning of the constellations. If you made a level of all the time doing all of your skywatching at the identical time by the clock, the constellations would proceed as all the time. Of course the “Summer Triangle effect” applies to your entire celestial sphere, not simply the Summer Triangle. But the obvious stalling of that vibrant landmark impressed Sky & Telescope to present the impact that a few years in the past, and it has caught ever since.Of course, as all the time in celestial mechanics, a deficit someplace will get made up elsewhere. The reverse impact makes the seasonal advance of the constellations appear to hurry up in early spring. The spring-sky landmarks of Virgo and Corvus appear to maneuver away westward from week to week virtually earlier than you realize it, attributable to darkness coming later. Let’s name this the “Corvus effect.” ■ Jupiter’s Great Red Spot ought to transit the planet’s central meridian round 6:20 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. Jupiter is in pretty good view for the Pacific time zone round then. But do not be too dissatisfied; not solely is Jupiter getting pretty low in fuzzy, shimmery seeing, it has additionally been getting considerably farther and smaller since its July opposition.


■ Mars and the brilliant gibbous Moon accompany one another throughout the sky tonight. Or so it seems. Mars is definitely 170 occasions farther away and twice the Moon’s bodily dimension (diameter).High above them in early night, the Great Square of Pegasus balances on one nook.

■ This is the time of yr when the Big Dipper lies stage low within the north-northwest in early to mid-night. How low? The farther south you might be, the decrease. Seen from 40° north (New York, Peoria, Denver) even its backside stars twinkle almost ten levels excessive. But at Miami (26° N), your entire Dipper skims alongside out of sight slightly below the horizon.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30■ Vega is the brightest star very excessive within the west these evenings. Its little constellation Lyra extends to its left, pointing as all the time to Altair, presently the brightest star excessive within the southwest.

Three of Lyra’s main stars, after Vega, are attention-grabbing doubles. Barely above Vega is 4th-magnitude Epsilon Lyrae, the Double-Double. Epsilon types one nook of a roughly equilateral triangle with Vega and Zeta Lyrae. The triangle is lower than 2° on a aspect, hardly the width of your thumb at arm’s size.

Binoculars simply resolve Epsilon. And a 4-inch telescope at 100× or extra ought to resolve every of Epsilon’s vast parts into a tight pair.

Zeta Lyrae can be a double star for binoculars; a lot more durable, however plainly resolved in a telescope.

And Delta Lyrae, a related distance higher left of Zeta, is a a lot wider and simpler binocular pair.


■ Full Moon for Halloween. The Moon (precisely full at 10:49 a.m. EDT) rises within the east about a half hour after sundown, relying in your location. This is the second full Moon in calendar October in most of the world’s time zones, together with these of the Americas, making this a “blue moon” for these time zones. That vibrant orange dot off to its higher proper is Mars.After darkish, you will discover the modest stars of little Aries above the Moon by about a fist and a half at arm’s size, if you may make them out via the moonlight.Above Aries, by a roughly related quantity, is the for much longer line of stars forming the principle line of the constellation Andromeda, form of horizontal-ish and two or three fists from finish to finish.Meanwhile, within the west-southwest you will discover vibrant Jupiter and, higher left of Jupiter by half a fist, lesser Saturn.

■ Uranus is at opposition.


This Week’s Planet Roundup

Mercury is hidden in deep within the glow of dawn. But not for lengthy! Next week it would bounce up into good daybreak view.

Venus (magnitude –4.0) shines brightly within the east earlier than and through daybreak. It’s now within the dim head of Virgo, “the lair of the Lion” beneath Leo. Venus rises in deep darkness greater than an hour earlier than daybreak begins. Once daybreak is beneath manner, it is in high quality view as the brilliant “Morning Star” within the east.Look to Venus’s higher left, by a fist at arm’s size or extra, for 2nd-magnitude Denebola, Leo’s tail-tip as he strides diagonally upward. In a telescope Venus is a dazzling little gibbous ball, simply 13 or 14 arcseconds from pole to pole.

Mars (about magnitude –2.3, in Pisces) handed via opposition on October 13th and continues to be a lot bigger and brighter than we normally see it. This week it is about 21 arcseconds in diameter, climbing into high quality, excessive telescopic view earlier within the evening.At nightfall Mars glares fiery orange, a hint greater than Jupiter-bright, pretty low within the east. It’s excessive within the southeast by 9 or 10 p.m. daylight-saving time, and it is highest at its telescopic finest by 11 or midnight, blazing within the south.

Six Mars portraits taken over the previous month present the present look of the albedo (gentle and darkish) markings throughout the globe. Labeled are among the most distinguished ones seen in novice telescopes. Credits: Damian Peach (high left, proper); Mark Schmidt (high center); Chris Go (backside left) and Anthony Wesley (backside center and proper)See Bob King’s “A Great Year for Mars” within the October Sky & Telescope, web page 48, and his Behold Mars! on-line. To get a map of the aspect of Mars going through Earth at the date and time you will observe, you should use our Mars Profiler. The map there may be sq.; bear in mind to mentally wrap it onto the aspect of a globe. (Features close to the map’s edges change into very foreshortened; examine with the pictures above.)

Jupiter and Saturn (magnitudes –2.2 and +0.6, respectively) tilt down within the west-southwest these evenings. Get your telescope on them early, earlier than the tip of twilight, earlier than they sink decrease towards the southwest later within the night. But do not anticipate a lot; each are considerably farther and smaller than they had been throughout summer season. Jupiter is the brilliant one; Saturn is about 5½° to its higher left. Watch them creep towards one another for the remainder of the autumn. They’ll go simply 0.1° aside at conjunction on December 21st, low in twilight, proper when fall turns to winter. Follow the interaction of Jupiter with its moons and their shadows, and discover all of the transit occasions of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, utilizing the Celestial Calendar part of the October Sky & Telescope.

Jupiter on October fifth, imaged by Christopher Go at 10:29 UT. South is higher proper. Upper left of the Great Red Spot is giant, pale Oval BA. Note the bluish darkish festoon bases within the Equatorial Zone. Much of the EZ continues to be unusually tan moderately than white.Just 1¼ day earlier, Glenn Orton at NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility imaged almost the identical aspect of Jupiter within the mid-infrared (5.1 microns). Bright areas are warmth radiation shining out from Jupiter’s depths. Darker areas are the place excessive-altitude clouds block it. Compare the 2 pictures. White and light-weight tan clouds are clearly the best ones, however so is the distinctive orange materials of the Great Red 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, similar 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 p.m. daylight-saving time, about 20° east of Mars. Uranus is simply 3.7 arcseconds vast, however that is sufficient to look as a tiny fuzzy ball, not a level, at excessive energy in even a good small telescope.

Neptune (magnitude 7.8, in Aquarius) is a little larger within the south-southeast at that point. Neptune is 2.Three arcseconds vast, tougher to resolve besides in good seeing. Check in on them whenever you’re executed 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.

Eastern Daylight Time, EDT, is Universal Time minus Four hours. (Universal Time is also called UT, UTC, GMT, or Z time.)

Want to change into 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 pastime. For a simple-to-use constellation information overlaying the entire night sky, use the large month-to-month map within the middle of every problem of Sky & Telescope, the important journal of astronomy.

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

The Pocket Sky Atlas plots 30,796 stars to magnitude 7.6, and a whole bunch of telescopic galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae amongst them. Shown right here is the Jumbo Edition, which is in exhausting covers and enlarged for simpler studying outside at evening. Sample charts. More in regards to the latest new editions.Next up is the bigger and deeper Sky Atlas 2000.0, plotting stars to magnitude 8.5; almost thrice as many. The subsequent up, as soon as you realize your manner round, are the even bigger Interstellarum atlas (stars to magnitude 9.5) or Uranometria 2000.0 (stars to magnitude 9.75). And make sure you learn how you can use sky charts with a telescope.

You’ll additionally need a good deep-sky guidebook, equivalent 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 novices, I do not suppose, and never on mounts and tripods which can be lower than high-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 beneath the night sky with yourearbuds in place, hearken 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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