Saturday, October 10, 2015

A good week

Lots of sky events here over this past week.


A spectacular Northern Lights display:














An iridium flare:















And a nice bright pass of the ISS:















Northern Lights 2 frame animated gif:
CLICK TO VIEW







Things to look for in the sky over the next week:
October 10: Morning Mercury
Venus, the "morning star," is well up in the east at dawn, with slightly
fainter Jupiter to its lower left. The much fainter planet Mercury stands
well below them, just above the crescent Moon. Mercury will climb higher and
shine brighter over the next few mornings.

October 11: Uranus at Opposition
The planet Uranus is putting in its best showing of the year. It rises at
sunset, is in the sky all night, and is brightest for the year. In fact,
under dark skies, those with keen vision might just make out the planet with
the unaided eye.

October 12: 51 Pegasi
Pegasus, the flying horse, soars high across the sky on October evenings. In
1995, astronomers discovered a planet orbiting one of its stars, 51 Pegasi.
It was the first planet discovered in orbit around a "normal" star like the
Sun.

October 13: Hot Planet
Cancer, the crab, is high in the east at first light. One of its stars, 55
Cancri, hosts at least five planets, including one that may be covered by
giant volcanoes that belch enough ash and gas to sometimes almost block its
sun from view.

October 14: Tau Ceti
Tau Ceti, one of the most popular star systems in science-fiction, is in the
constellation Cetus, the sea monster. The star climbs into view in the
east-southeast by about 10 p.m. It is faint, so you need a starchart to help
you pick it out.

October 15: Mars and Jupiter
Mars and Jupiter look like they are going to ram together in the dawn sky
over the next few days. Jupiter is the brighter world, with orange Mars
standing just below it tomorrow. They will move closer together on Saturday
and Sunday.

October 16: Moon, Saturn, Antares
Only one planet is in easy view in the evening sky: golden Saturn. Tonight,
it is close to the lower right of the Moon as night falls. The bright orange
star Antares, the heart of the scorpion, is a bit farther to the lower left
of the Moon.

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Sunday, October 4, 2015

This week's astronomy hi-lites

October 4: Last-Quarter Moon
The Moon is at its last-quarter phase at 4:06 p.m. CDT, so sunlight
illuminates half of the lunar hemisphere that faces Earth. The illuminated
portion of that hemisphere will grow smaller each day until the Moon is new
on October 12.

October 5: Double Cluster
Two vigorous young star clusters, known as the Double Cluster, circle high
across the north on autumn evenings. Under dark skies, they are just visible
to the unaided eye as a hazy smudge of light below W-shaped Cassiopeia.
Binoculars reveal many more stars.

October 6: Triangulum Galaxy
The third-largest galaxy in our neighborhood, M33, is in Triangulum, which
is in the east in mid evening. The galaxy is visible through binoculars as a
hazy smudge of light not far from the triangle of stars that gives the
constellation its name.

October 7: Moon and Companions
The crescent Moon drops past two pairs of bright objects in the pre-dawn sky
the next couple of days. The group that is closer to the Moon tomorrow
includes the planet Venus, which shines as the "morning star," and the true
star Regulus, the heart of the lion.

October 8: Moon and More Companions
Mars stands close to the left of the crescent Moon at first light tomorrow.
The planet looks like a modest orange star. The much brighter planet Jupiter
is below Mars and the Moon, with the even brighter planet Venus above them.

October 9: Alpha Persei
Perseus, the hero, is low in the northeast at nightfall. Its brightest star,
Alpha Persei, probably is just one percent of the age of the Sun, yet it
already is nearing the end of its life because it's much more massive than
the Sun.

October 10: Morning Mercury
Venus, the "morning star," is well up in the east at dawn, with slightly
fainter Jupiter to its lower left. The much fainter planet Mercury stands
well below them, just above the crescent Moon. Mercury will climb higher and
shine brighter over the next few mornings.

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