The sky this week from October 1 to 8


Tuesday, October 5
The moons of Jupiter are playing hide and seek tonight. Shortly after sunset, point your telescope at the brilliant gas giant, which now lies nearly 2 ° northwest of magnitude 2.9 Deneb Algedi in Capricorn.

At 9:48 p.m. EDT, Io escapes from Jupiter’s long shadow, reappearing about 20 feet east of the planet’s limb. On the other side of the disc, Europe is approaching from the west; the icy moon slides out of sight behind the planet at 10:14 p.m. EDT. Jupiter’s other two large moons, Ganymede and Callisto, lie far to the west, with Callisto currently being the furthest from the planet.

While you have pointed your telescope at Capricorn, cross over to the west side of the constellation, where Saturn is just under 16 ° west of Jupiter. A dimmer of 0.4 to Jupiter’s magnitude -2.7, Saturn nevertheless stands out in a telescope with its magnificent ring system, which spans about 40 “from end to end. The largest moon and Saturn’s brightest, Titan, is just north of the ringed planet tonight. I will find its 8.5 magnitude shining about 56 “north of the center of the planet’s disk.

Sunrise: 7:01
Sunset: 6:35 p.m.
Moonrise: 05:51
Moon setting: 6:35 p.m.
Moon phase: Descending descending (1%)

Wednesday October 6
The New Moon occurs at 7:05 am EDT, which means our night sky will be completely dark and moonless. The Moon reaches this phase when it is directly between the Earth and the Sun, so that only its far side is illuminated, leaving its entire closest face in shadow and hidden from our view. This is exactly the situation necessary for a solar eclipse to occur, and sometimes it does. However, because the orbit of the Moon does not exactly match the position of the Sun in the sky, not all New Moons cause a solar eclipse. (The next one will arrive before the end of the year, December 4 – but it will only hit Antarctica.)

Pluto is stationary at 9 a.m. EDT. If you have a big enough telescope, you can try to find this distant world after dark. It is located in Sagittarius, northeast of the teapot asterism handle. The tiny dwarf planet, which shines at magnitude 15.2, is within 7 ‘of a 7th magnitude field star, HIP 97138. Pluto was previously moving southwest, but now it has reached a turnaround and will begin to move away east-northeast as October advances.

Sunrise: 7:02
Sunset: 18:34
Moonrise: 7:03
Moon setting: 7:02 p.m.
Moon phase: New

Thursday October 7
Venus goes from Libra to Scorpio today. When you catch this evening star shortly after sunset this evening, you will see that its magnitude -4.3 glow is now 2.3 ° west of the magnitude 2 Delta Scorpii, also known as Dschubba. This star is one of the three that make up the head of Scorpio and its name rightly means “the forehead”.

Venus itself is now 59% illuminated and measures 20 inches in diameter. It sets around 8:30 p.m. local time, so you should have a good time after sunset to observe it. Look further east of the planet and you will come to the first -magnitude Antares, the alpha star of Scorpius, whose red hue reveals that it is an aging red supergiant star whose color, like its name suggests, rivals that of Mars.

The red planet itself reaches the conjunction with the Sun at midnight EDT. Because it is now on the opposite side of our star from Earth, the planet is not only invisible from our point of view, but it is also more difficult for radio signals to reach it. This is because the emission from the Sun, which sits between our planets, can interfere with attempts at communication between the two. Thus, NASA announced that it refrain from sending orders to its fleet of Martian missions until October 16, when conditions are more favorable. Missions are currently following pre-set schedules, fulfilling their orders autonomously until next week.

Don’t worry, however, Mars lover, it will emerge from the Sun’s glare and reappear in the sky early in the morning by December.

Sunrise: 7:03
Sunset: 6:32 p.m.
Moonrise: 8:17
Moon setting: 7:32 p.m.
Moon phase: Wax croissant (2%)

Friday October 8
The Moon reaches perigee – the closest point to Earth in its orbit – at 1:28 p.m. EDT. At that time, it will be 225,797 miles (363,385 km) from our planet.

A second dwarf planet – this time 1 Ceres – reaches its stationary point this week. Magnitude 8 Ceres is stationary at 3:00 p.m. EDT, located in Taurus, which rises late tonight. Today Ceres sits nearly 2.2 ° east of Aldebaran, Taurus’ brightest star. Like Antares, Aldebaran is a red giant star whose crimson hue is unmistakable.

Ceres is also 3 ° south of open cluster NGC 1647, which contains about 90 suns at a distance of nearly 1,800 light years. You can see this loose collection of stars with binoculars or a small scope – in fact, a lower power is better to see more of this cluster, which stretches for about 45 ‘.

Sunrise: 7:04
Sunset: 6:30 p.m.
Moonrise: 9:34
Moon setting: 8:04 p.m.
Moon phase: Wax croissant (7%)

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