The longer, cooler nights of October offer some pleasant skywatching. Some of the signature constellations of autumn, including Pegasus and Andromeda, are in good view at nightfall and climb high across the sky around midnight. Under dark skies, look for the Andromeda galaxy, the most- distant object that is easily visible to the unaided eye — a whopping 2.5 million light-years away. On the planetary front, Venus is climbing into better view as the Evening Star, while Jupiter, the next-brightest light in the night sky, climbs into view in the dawn twilight by the middle of the month.
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In the Sky This Month
October 28: Eridanus
Eridanus, the river, flows into the evening sky this month. This long, winding trail of stars begins to rise around 8 or 9 p.m., but it is so long that its easternmost stars don’t clear the horizon until about midnight.
October 29: Venus and Saturn
Two planets are slipping past each other in the early evening sky. Venus is the “evening star.” The fainter planet Saturn stands to the upper right of Venus this evening, and a bit farther from it on succeeding nights.
October 30: New Moon
The Moon is new today at 12:38 p.m. CDT as it crosses the line between Earth and Sun. Our satellite world is lost in the Sun’s glare, but will return to view as a thin crescent shortly after sunset tomorrow or the next day.
October 31: Algol
Four stars in Perseus represent the Gorgons, the mythological sisters whose heads were covered with snakes. For a couple of hours every three days, the brightest of them, Algol, fades dramatically as one member of the binary system covers the other.
November 1: Moon and Planets
Two planets stand to the upper left of the Moon after sunset. The brighter one is Venus, the “evening star,” while fainter Saturn is close to its right.
November 2: More Moon and Planets
Look for the Moon low in the southwest as darkness falls tonight. Venus, the dazzling “evening star,” stands to its lower left, with fainter Saturn closer below the Moon.
November 3: Sagittarius
The constellation Sagittarius is about to drop from view. Right now, it is quite low in the southeast at nightfall. Its brightest stars form the outline of a teapot. A semicircle of stars known as the southern crown arcs to its lower left.