Wandering through the realms of the cosmos, pondering its huge vastness

October 2010 Night Sky Guide

 

October is my favorite month when it comes to sky gazing 😀 My favorite constellation, Orion, starts become visible again during this time of the year.

Also, the famous Orionids – which I consider as one of the best meteor showers because of the high chance of “fireballs” lighting up the sky during this shower – make their appearance during this month.

Aside from these, the night sky is usually clear during October. Rain is infrequent and nights become longer and colder. As soon as early evening comes, the stars of different noticeable colors fill the sky like scattered jewels. Sagittarius, Scorpius and Corona Australis in the southwest, Bootes in the west, the royal family of Cepheus, Cassiopeia, and Andromeda with winged-horse Pegasus on the northeast, and the very prominent Summer Triangle up high, fill up the sky dome. As the evening wears on, more and more interesting constellations also show themselves like the Charioteer Auriga beside Taurus which contain the spectacular open star clusters, Hyades (the V-shaped one) and Pleiades (the rosary-like group).

So there. 🙂 I hope I have somewhat convinced you why I love this month. If you’re interested to do your own skygazing at your own backyards, I have compiled here a list of other special astronomical highlights for October 2010 as a guide in observing the night sky and to encourage more people to look up and appreciate the awesome sky display this season.

All dates are set for Philippine sky observers. (Note: PST is equivalent to UTC+8)

 

This month’s observing highlights:

Oct 7-8 : Draconids Meteor Shower (Expect a peak rate of 10 meteors per hour under clear, moonless conditions.)

The Draconids will start on October 6th and will continue until October 10th, when the Earth passes through the dust from the comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner.

Although this particular meteor shower may not present a lot of meteor activity this year, it has been known to produce hundreds of meteors in an hour at times.

We are  in luck with the Draconids meteor shower this year for the new moon is scheduled for October 7, promising darkened conditions for easy observation. One of the best parts is that activity occurs earlier in the evening, so no one has to stay up till after midnight to catch a glimpse or obtain a full view, of the meteor shower.

Some people had reported to have seen 2 or more meteors during early this month in the northwestern direction around 6:30 – 7:00 PM.

Try to find these yellowish, slow-moving meteors around your area, too. Use the picture as a guide to locate the radiant point of the Draconid meteor shower which almost coincides with the head of the constellation Draco the Dragon, in the northern sky.

phtoto credit: meteorblog.com

 

Oct 6-9 : Comet Hartley 2 (officially designated 103P/Hartley) which is said to be the brightest comet this year, will be near the double cluster in Perseus.

Comet Hartley is expected to reach magnitude 5 during month. It is said to be large and diffuse, meaning its light is spread out over a wide area. You will definitely need a dark  sky – free of city lights – to see it. Also, when searching for the comet, remember to use averted vision. That’s the technique of looking to one side of the faint object you seek on the sky’s dome, instead of directly at it. Through binoculars, it should look like a smudge of light, like a faint, fuzzy green star against the dark sky background.

To find the comet near the the double cluster in Perseus, first find the constellation Cassiopeia the Queen, that is shaped like the letter M or W. Draw an imaginary line downward through the Navi (Gamma Cassiopeiae) and Ruchbah (Delta Cassiopeiae) just like the one shown below. It will point to the double cluster and Comet Hartley will be just within its vicinity.


Guide to finding Comet Hartley during early October

 

Comet Hartley 2’s path as shown against the background of constellations (click to enlarge view)

 

Oct 10 : Moon – Venus Conjunction

The Waxing Crescent Moon and Venus are both very close to the southwestern horizon at sunset.

Oct 11 : Moon near red Antares in Scorpius

Oct 20: Comet Hartley 2 will make its closest approach to Earth.

For a few days around October 20, the comet should be bright enough to view with the naked eye in the early morning sky. Look to the east just before sunrise.

This comet will be near the bright star Capella in the constellation Auriga. Capella is about 30 degrees above the northeastern horizon at 11 PM (PST) on this date.

Oct 20 : Waning Gibbous Moon – Jupiter Conjunction

These two will be less than 10 degrees apart. Check the eastern sky after sunset.

Oct 21-22 : Orionids Meteor Shower peaks

The Orionids is an average shower producing about 20 meteors per hour at their peak. Best viewing will be to the east after midnight. The radiant of the shower will be observed north of Betelgeuse, the brightest star in the constellation Orion, the Mighty Hunter.

Oct 26 : Moon in between Pleiades and the star Aldebaran in Taurus

 

* * * *

Planets

Mercury will be a “morning star” at the very beginning of the month, then will be too close to the Sun to observe for the rest of the month.

Venus sinks ever closer to the Sun as the month begins, making it very hard to observe in the Northern Hemisphere. Experienced observers with accurate setting circles or goto can follow it quite close to the Sun but should use extreme caution. The narrowing phase of Venus will be visible even in binoculars if you block the Sun with a rooftop or chimney. Inferior conjunction is on October 30.

Mars is pretty much lost in evening twilight.

Jupiter is just past opposition and visible most of the night, dominating the southern sky. It is in retrograde motion, so spends the first half of the month in the constellation Pisces, moving into Aquarius on October 15.

Saturn is in conjunction with the Sun on October 1, and reappears as a morning “star” late in the month. Its rings have now returned to their usual glory after being on edge for the last two years.

Uranus is in Pisces all month, and remains within a few degrees of Jupiter.

Neptune is visible most of the night in northeastern Capricornus.


* * * *

Moon Phases

October 7 – New Moon

October 15 – First Quarter Moon

October 23 – Full  Moon

The Full Moon of October is usually known as the Hunter’s Moon. This will spoil the Orionid meteors, which peak the night before.

October 30 – Last Quarter Moon

 

 

 

Clear skies and happy observing! 😀

 

 

 


===========

In astronomical terms…

+ Conjunction – two celestial bodies appear near one another in the sky

+ Radiant – (meteor shower) is the point in the sky, from which (to a planetary observer) meteors appear to originate. An observer might see such a meteor anywhere in the sky but the direction of motion, when traced back, will point to the radiant. A meteor that does not point back to the known radiant for a given shower is known as a sporadic and is not considered part of that shower.

 

sources: SPACE.com, EarthSky.org

October 2010’s night sky :)Oct 7 : New Moon
Oct 7-8 : Draconids Meteor Shower (Expect a peak rate of 10 meteors per hour under clear, moonless conditions.)
Oct
6-9 : Comet Hartley 2 near the double cluster in Perseus [to locate
this, draw an imaginary line downward through the Navi (Gamma
Cassiopeiae) and Ruchbah (Delta Cassiopeiae)]
Oct 10 : Waxing Crescent Moon-Venus Conjunction (check western sky a few minutes after sunset)
Oct 11 : Moon near red Antares
Oct
20 : Comet Hartley 2 will make its closest approach to Earth ( For a
few days around October 20, the comet should be bright enough to view
with the naked eye in the early morning sky. Look to the east just
before sunrise)
Oct 20 : Waning Gibbous Moon – Jupiter Conjunction (check Eastern sky)
Oct
21-22 : Orionids Meteor Shower Peak (The Orionids is an average shower
producing about 20 meteors per hour at their peak. Best viewing will be
to the east after midnight.)
Oct 26 : Moon in between Pleiades and the star Aldebaran
Clear skies!=====
*conjunction – two celestial bodies appear near one another in the sky

October 2010’s night sky 🙂

Oct 7 : New Moon

Oct 7-8 : Draconids Meteor Shower (Expect a peak rate of 10 meteors per hour under clear, moonless conditions.)

Oct

… 6-9 : Comet Hartley 2 near the double cluster in Perseus [to locate

this, draw an imaginary line downward through the Navi (Gamma

Cassiopeiae) and Ruchbah (Delta Cassiopeiae)]

Oct 10 : Waxing Crescent Moon-Venus Conjunction (check western sky a few minutes after sunset)

Oct 11 : Moon near red Antares

Oct

20 : Comet Hartley 2 will make its closest approach to Earth ( For a

few days around October 20, the comet should be bright enough to view

with the naked eye in the early morning sky. Look to the east just

before sunrise)

Oct 20 : Waning Gibbous Moon – Jupiter Conjunction (check Eastern sky)

Oct

21-22 : Orionids Meteor Shower Peak (The Orionids is an average shower

producing about 20 meteors per hour at their peak. Best viewing will be

to the east after midnight.)

Oct 26 : Moon in between Pleiades and the star Aldebaran

Clear skies!

=====

*conjunction – two celestial bodies appear near one another in the sky

6 responses

  1. Pingback: 2010 in review « Journey to the Stars

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  3. Pingback: Lunar Libration in September and October 2010 « Michael W. Peterson

  4. Bea Banzuela

    Can I just say, I’m so proud of you and this blog. 😀 very informative. Keep it up!

    October 8, 2010 at 3:49 pm

  5. Pingback: Stanley Black & Decker to Broadcast Third Quarter 2010 Results on Wednesday, October 20th, 2010 | audio conference calling

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