Last Week's Stargazing Tips

October 21: M31

The largest single object visible to the unaided eye is M31, the Andromeda galaxy. It looks like a small, faint smudge of light in the constellation Andromeda. It is high in the east at nightfall and directly overhead around midnight.

October 20: New Names

Upsilon Andromedae is one of the brightest stars in the night sky known to have four or more planets. It is about a third of the way up the east-northeast sky at nightfall, and stands directly overhead in the wee hours of the morning.

October 19: Orionid Meteors II

The thin but reliable Orionid meteor shower is at its best the next couple of nights. The view is best in the wee hours of the morning, when you might see a dozen or so “shooting stars” per hour.

October 18: Meteor Showers

The Orionid meteor shower will strafe Earth over the next few nights. It should be at its best tomorrow and Monday nights, although you might see a few outliers tonight as well. The shower is best viewed in the wee hours of the morning.

October 17: Big Constellations

Big constellations with big stories populate the late-evening eastern sky. Around 11 p.m., look for Taurus, the bull; Cetus, the sea monster, and Eridanus, the river. They all cover large regions of the sky and include several fairly bright stars.

October 16: Close to Mars

Comet Siding Spring will swing 82,000 miles above Mars on Sunday, which is just a third of the distance between Earth and the Moon. Mars is low in the southwest at nightfall. The comet should be visible through binoculars as it passes Mars.

October 15: Moon and Jupiter

The planet Jupiter is climbing higher into the morning sky each day. It looks like a brilliant star, high in the east-southeast at first light. Jupiter will stand well to the lower left of the Moon tomorrow, but will be much closer to the Moon on Friday and Saturday.


©2014 The University of Texas McDonald Observatory