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In the Sky This Month

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.

October 25: Cepheus

Cepheus the king stands high in the north this evening, and looks like an upside-down child’s drawing of a house. It was passed down to us from ancient times through the Almagest, a famous text written almost 2,000 years ago by Claudius Ptolemy.

October 26: VV Cephei

Cepheus the king wheels high across the north on autumn evenings. It hosts one of the largest stars in the galaxy, VV Cephei. If it took the Sun’s place, it would swallow Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and maybe Saturn.

October 27: Moon and Jupiter

Jupiter is in great view at dawn tomorrow. The solar system’s largest planet looks like a brilliant star a whisker to the upper right of the crescent Moon. Jupiter is the brightest object in the sky at that hour other than the Moon.

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.

Current moon phase

First QuarterFirst Oct. 8, 11:33 pm

Full MoonFull Oct. 15, 11:23 pm

Last quarterLast Oct. 22, 2:14 pm

New MoonNew Oct. 30, 12:38 pm

Times are U.S. Central Time.

Apogee October 4

Perigee October 16

The full Moon of October is known as the Hunter’s Moon or Dying Grass Moon.