| Observatory |
Some observing hilights
to look forward to...
The following tips on current and upcoming astronomical events
have been gathered from magazines and other sources by Dave Gamble
with the objective of giving OC RASC members a heads-up on
special personal astro-experiences to look forward to.
Tues. Oct. 3 – The Moon will provide a handy fingerpost to the blue ice giant Neptune in tonight’s sky. The outer planet will be just a bit more than a moon’s width to the north of our waxing gibbous neighbour.
Thurs. Oct. 5 – Seeing two planets come close together in the sky is a memorable experience. Before dawn this morning brilliant Venus will be less than half the width of the Moon from ruddy Mars low in the eastern sky. This should provide a dramatic binocular or telescope spectacle.
Thurs. Oct. 5 – This is Full Moon night, marking the traditional Hunter’s Moon of the fall season. This will occur as our neighbour is approaching the closest part of its orbit from Earth (Perigee), so its slightly larger size should put on quite a show, lighting up the Okanagan autumn.
Fri. Oct. 6 – Tonight our tireless tourist guide, the Moon, will lead us to the vicinity of Uranus. Look for the greenish planet less than three finger widths above the just past full Moon.
Mon. Oct. 9 – Tonight the Moon is at perigee, the closest part of its orbit to Earth, so the waning gibbous orb may look a bit larger than usual as it rises over the Okanagan’s eastern mountains. If seen before dawn this morning you will find it in the company of the beautiful Hyades open star cluster in Taurus.
Tues. Oct. 10 - Another reminder that the Zodiacal Light can be seen at its fall best at this time of year. Created by the Sun illuminating dust particles in the equatorial plane of the solar system, the faint elongated triangle of light extends up into the pre-dawn eastern sky with a big of a tilt to the right.
Thurs. Oct. 12 – This is Last Quarter Moon night. The half lit sphere will rise around midnight and hang around to pose in the following morning’s sky.
Sun. Oct. 15 – Early this morning the waning crescent Moon will have a very close conjunction with the bright star Regulus in Leo. The actual progress of the Moon in its orbit will be seen in this celestial dance.
Sun. Oct. 15 – Tonight the ‘Demon Star’ Algol will give us a subtle wink. This is a gradual event lasting about two hours, centered at 10.25pm. Check the star in Perseus around 9 o’clock and compare its brightness with surrounding stars, then revisit it at its dimmest around 10.30pm. You may share the experience of what was a huge mystery to observers before Algol was discovered to be an eclipsing binary star.
Tues. Oct. 17 – Moving right along, the waning crescent Moon will pass just north of both Mars and Venus in the early morning hours. If you’re looking for them, keep an eye out for the Zodiacal light rising up from the eastern horizon. This subtle light show will continue to perform for the next couple of weeks.
Thurs. Oct. 19 – This is New Moon night. Given clear skies, the heart of the dark moon period will be ideal for deep sky observing, sketching and imaging.
Sat. Oct. 21 - The Orionid meteor shower will peak tonight, and unlike several recent showers, the Moon will be out of the way and unable to compromise the show. Activity should be strong several nights before and after. The early morning hours should provide the best view with the radiant in Orion, well placed in the southern sky. This is not a prominent meteor shower, but with reasonably dark skies you might expect to see a ‘shooting star’ on the average of one every five minutes.
Tues. Oct. 24 – The thin crescent Moon will be just north of Saturn this evening, low in the evening sky. It should be an attractive sight, and it is a good excuse to revisit the ringed planet before it sinks lower into the twilight.
Fri. Oct. 27 – This is First Quarter Moon night, which always provides a pleasing counterpoint for the changing seasons, in this case brightly coloured falling autumn leaves.
Mon. Oct. 30 – The waxing gibbous Moon will again brush by Neptune tonight, this time less than two moon widths below it.