October offers some of the best skywatching conditions of the year. The nights are getting longer, while the weather is cooler but not yet bitter. The evening sky offers such treats as Andromeda and several other constellations associated with her story, and the Pleiades and Hyades star clusters in Taurus. Jupiter is climbing higher into the morning sky, while Mars is getting ready to exit the evening sky.
This Week's Stargazing Tips
November 28: Seasonal Wonders
For stargazers, no time is as spectacular as late fall and early winter, when the evening sky abounds with bright stars, such as Rigel and Betelgeuse in Orion, Aldebaran in Taurus, Capella in Auriga, and Sirius and Procyon in Canis Major and Canis Minor.
November 29: Grus
Grus, the crane, strides low across the southern sky this evening. From the southern half of the country, look for it along the southern horizon in early evening, with its neck extending well up into the sky. The constellation is below Fomalhaut, the brightest star in that area.
November 30: Phoenix
The southern constellation Phoenix, which is named for the mythological bird that was reborn from its own ashes, just peeks above the southern horizon this evening for skywatchers across most of the United States.
December 1: Moon and Uranus
A giant but faint planet Uranus leads the gibbous Moon across the sky tonight. Through binoculars, it looks like a tiny star close to the right or lower right of the Moon at nightfall, with the gap growing wider as the night progresses.
December 2: Disappearing Triangle
Even though winter is almost here, the Summer Triangle remains in good view. It is well up in the west at nightfall. Its brightest point is the star Vega, about a third of the way up the sky. Deneb is above it, with Altair far to the left of Vega.
December 3: Auriga
The constellation Auriga, the charioteer, is low in the northeast at nightfall and passes directly overhead around midnight. Its brightest star is yellow-orange Capella, one of the brightest stars in the night sky.
December 4: Climbing Higher
Orion is climbing higher into the evening sky. Look eastward in late evening for a line of three stars extending straight up from the horizon, flanked by two brighter stars: orange Betelgeuse to the left, and blue-white Rigel to the right.
Check last week's tips if you missed a day.