Mars remains an evening object. It is low in the southwest at dusk.
Jupiter is high in the morning sky this month. Look high in the south/southwest at dawn for the object, which outshines all stars in that direction. Jupiter is also becoming a late evening object; it rises by 10:40 p.m. on October 1st and by 8:40 p.m. on the 31st.
Venus remains high in the east at dawn, continuing a spectacular morning apparition.
Saturn drops into the glare of the setting Sun this month, and is thus out of sight. On October 25, Saturn is in line with the Sun, or at conjunction.
Antares, brightest star of Scorpius, the Scorpion, sets in the southwest during twilight, with the ‘teapot’ of Sagittarius to its upper left. Meanwhile, the Summer Triangle is virtually overhead. As the stars of summer shift to the west, those of autumn fill the eastern sky. Watch the Great Square of Pegasus rise in the east. Note that we look towards the center of our galaxy when we face between Scorpius and Sagittarius. When facing the Great Square, or especially south and east of that, we face out of the plane of our galaxy, a direction where there are fewer bright stars. That’s why the large expanse of sky rising under Pegasus seems devoid of bright stars.
For this reason, ancient Babylonians designated this broad area of sky as the ‘Celestial Sea’, and filled it with watery constellations. The only bright star in this whole expanse of our sky is Fomalhaut in the southeast, which marks the mouth of the Southern Fish. Between the ‘teapot’ of Sagittarius and Jupiter (in Taurus, the Bull), are dim zodiacal constellations including Capricornus, the Sea Goat; Aquarius, the Water Carrier; and Pisces, the Fish. The giant sea monster Cetus rises under Pisces.
Moon Phases in October 2012:
Last Quarter October 8, 2:33 am
New October 15, 7:02 am
1st Quarter October 21, 10:33 pm
Full October 29, 2:49 pm
Saturday, October 20, is our annual Astronomy Day at George Observatory, which lasts from 3 to 10 p.m. at our observatory in Brazos Bend State Park. Click here for a full list of activities.
On most clear Saturday nights at the George Observatory, you can hear me do live star tours on the observation deck with a green laser pointer. If you’re there, listen for my announcement.
To enjoy the stars in any weather from the comfort of the HMNS Planetarium, click here for a full schedule.
Would you like email updates on current events in the sky, at the planetarium, and at the George Observatory? If so, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.