Stargazing Information

A giant story unfolds across the evening skies of October. It involves Andromeda and four surrounding constellations. They tell us of the mother who angered the gods, the father who ordered Andromeda sacrificed to appease them, the sea monster that tried to destroy her, and the hero who saved her. And in the morning sky, Venus, Jupiter and Mars all congregate within the borders of Leo, adding some zest to the chilly autumn mornings.

This Week's Stargazing Tips

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.

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.

Check last week's tips if you missed a day.


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