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Last Week's Stargazing Tips

October 18: Uranus at Opposition

The planet Uranus is putting in its best appearance of the year this week. It rises at sunset and remains in the sky all night. It’s also closest to us for the year. It’s still so faint, though, that you need binoculars to find it.

October 17: Moon and Venus

The beautiful “morning star” shines above the crescent Moon at dawn tomorrow. It’s not a star at all, though. Instead, it’s Venus, our nearest planetary neighbor. It shines so brightly in part because its surface is completely covered by clouds.

October 16: Moon and Mars

The planet Mars is in good view at dawn tomorrow. It stands to the right of the crescent Moon, and looks like a moderately bright star. The much brighter planet Venus stands below them.

October 15: Andromeda Galaxy

The Andromeda galaxy is in good view right now. Tonight, it’s in the east-northeast as darkness falls, and overhead later on. It looks like a faint, fuzzy star. Small telescopes reveal its true nature: a family of hundreds of billions of stars.

October 14: Moon and Regulus

Regulus will wink out of sight early tomorrow across most of the U.S. The star will be covered by the crescent Moon, an event known as an occultation. It’s one of a series of occultations that began last December and will continue through April.

October 13: Capricornus

Capricornus, the sea-goat, is low in the southern sky as darkness falls at this time of year. Its brightest stars form a wide triangle. None of the sea-goat’s stars is especially bright, though, so you need a fairly dark sky to make them out.

October 12: Last-Quarter Moon

The Moon is at its last-quarter phase at 7:25 a.m. CDT, so sunlight illuminates half of the lunar hemisphere that faces Earth. The illuminated portion of that hemisphere will grow smaller each day until the Moon is new on October 19.