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This Week’s Sky at a Glance, October 18 – 26 – Sky & Telescope

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Friday, Oct. 18

• Vega is the brightest star excessive within the west after darkish. To its decrease proper by 14° (practically a fist and a half at arm’s size), search for Eltanin, the nostril of Draco the Dragon. The remainder of Draco’s fainter, lozenge-shaped head is a bit of farther behind. Draco at all times eyes Vega.

The principle stars of Vega’s personal constellation, Lyra — fairly faint by comparability — lengthen to Vega’s left (by 7°).

Saturday, Oct. 19

• Vega shines excessive within the west after darkish. About equally 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 Aquila, the Eagle.

Waning Moon in Gemini at dawn, Oct. 20-21, 2019

On Sunday and Monday mornings the Moon shows itself in Gemini . . .

Waning Moon in Leo at dawn, Oct. 23-24, 2019

. . . and on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, the waning Moon says howdy and goodbye to Regulus.

Sunday, Oct. 20

• Spot Altair excessive within the southwest quickly after darkish. Two distinctive little constellations lurk above it: Delphinus the Dolphin, hardly greater than a fist at arm’s size to Altair’s higher left, and fainter Sagitta the Arrow, barely much less far to Altair’s higher proper. Sky too vivid? Use binoculars!

• At daybreak on Monday the 21st the Moon is just some hours from being precisely final quarter, as proven right here. See subsequent entry.

Monday, Oct. 21

• Final-quarter Moon; precisely so at eight:39 a.m. EDT. Many hours later, when the Moon rises round midnight or 1 a.m. tonight, the Moon’s terminator will already be trying just a bit concave. The Moon will then be in dim Most cancers, beneath Castor and Pollux and left of Procyon.

Binoculars is not going to solely present the form of the terminator higher, they need to additionally reveal the unfastened Beehive Star Cluster just some levels from the Moon throughout the identical binocular subject of view — if the air is sufficiently clear and clear.

By daybreak Tuesday morning the Moon will likely be excessive within the southeast.

Tuesday, Oct. 22

• Deneb is the zenith star after dusk (for skywatchers at mid-northern latitudes). Brighter Vega shines to its west. Altair shines farther right down to Deneb’s south-southwest.

Whereas it is nonetheless twilight, draw a line from Deneb by means of the midpoint between Vega and Altair. Maintain following this line means down, and you will hit Jupiter low within the southwest, on its strategy to setting.

Wednesday, Oct. 23

• It is attending to be the time of 12 months when the Large Dipper lies down horizontal low within the north-northwest within the night. How low? The farther south you’re, the decrease. Seen from 40° north (New York, Peoria, Denver) even its backside stars twinkle practically ten levels excessive. However at Miami (26° N) the complete Dipper skims alongside out of sight just under the northern horizon.

Thursday, Oct. 24

• Search for Capella glowing low within the northeast these evenings. Search for the Pleiades cluster, fingertip-size, about three fists at arm’s size to Capella’s proper. These harbingers of the chilly months rise increased as night grows late.

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

Friday, Oct. 25

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

So, as Halloween approaches yearly, you’ll be able to see Arcturus because the chilly remaining ghost of the departed summer time Solar.

Saturday, Oct. 26

• The W of Cassiopeia now stands vertically on finish within the night, excessive within the northeast. To its proper, excessive within the east, are Andromeda and the corner-balanced Nice Sq. of Pegasus.

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Wish to turn out to be a greater astronomer? Study your means across the constellations. They’re the important thing to finding all the pieces 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 masking the entire night sky, use the massive month-to-month map within the middle of every situation of Sky & Telescope, the important information to astronomy.

Jumbo Pocket Sky Atlas cover

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. Proven above is the Jumbo Edition for simpler studying within the night time. Sample chart.

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 normal is the Pocket Sky Atlas (in both the original or Jumbo Edition), which exhibits stars to magnitude 7.6.

Subsequent up is the bigger and deeper Sky Atlas 2000.0, plotting stars to magnitude eight.5; practically thrice as many. The following up, as soon as you understand your means round, are the even bigger Interstellarum atlas (stars to magnitude 9.5) and Uranometria 2000.0 (stars to magnitude 9.75). And you will have to know how to use sky charts with a telescope.

You will additionally desire a good deep-sky guidebook, akin to Sue French’s Deep-Sky Wonders assortment (which incorporates its personal charts), Sky Atlas 2000.0 Companion by Sturdy and Sinnott, or the larger Night Sky Observer’s Guide by Kepple and Sanner.

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


This Week’s Planet Roundup

Mercury and Venus are very low in vivid twilight after sundown. Begin by making an attempt for Venus, magnitude –Three.eight. It is simply above the west-southwest horizon a mere 20 minutes after sundown. Binoculars will assist.

To its left is Mercury, a lot dimmer at magnitude –Zero.1 all week. Their separation shrinks from eight° on October 18th to five° on the 25th. Good luck; carry binoculars at the very least.

Mars (a mere magnitude +1.eight, in Virgo) is a troublesome catch simply above the east horizon in early to mid- daybreak. Once more, you will want binoculars.

Jupiter (magnitude –2.Zero, in southern Ophiuchus) is the white dot low within the southwest as twilight fades.

Saturn on August 23rd. Even six weeks earlier than quadrature, the globe’s black shadow on the rings was already pretty large and outstanding; it is decrease proper of the globe right here. South is up, celestial east is correct. Damian Peach took this picture remotely with the 1-meter Chilescope.

Saturn (magnitude +Zero.5, in Sagittarius) is the regular yellow “star” within the south-southwest throughout and after nightfall. It is 23° higher left of Jupiter.

Saturn is simply two weeks previous its japanese quadrature with the Solar, so from our viewpoint, the planet’s globe casts its shadow effectively eastward onto the rings, including to the entire association’s Three-D look in a telescope. And the rings are tilted 25° into our line of sight, practically as open as we ever see them.

Under Saturn is the deal with of the Sagittarius Teapot, highlighted by 2.Zero-magnitude Sigma Sagittarii (Nunki). Barely above Saturn is the dimmer, smaller bowl of the Sagittarius Teaspoon.

Uranus (magnitude 5.7, in southern Aries) is effectively up within the east by 9 p.m. daylight saving time. It is highest within the south round midnight or 1.

Neptune (magnitude 7.eight, in japanese Aquarius) is in excessive view within the southern sky these evenings. See our finder charts for Uranus and Neptune and Bob King’s story on observing 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 (UT, UTC, GMT, or Z time) minus four hours.


Audio sky tour. Out below the night sky along with your earbuds in place, hearken to Kelly Beatty’s month-to-month podcast tour of the heavens above. It is free.


“The risks of not considering 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 considering might be way more deadly in methods it was by no means earlier than.”
— Carl Sagan, 1996




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