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Urban Observing October 2012 October 5, 2012

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, MichiganAstro.
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The good news is it’s still temperate out, even at night, and the Sun has started setting early enough that observing doesn’t need to eat into sleep time.

The bad news is it’s not a great month for bright stuff.

The Moon is of course the best target for light polluted skies.  The month starts off with a just-past-full waning gibbous, just above the eastern horizon at 9 PM on Oct. 1.  By Oct 8, you’ll have to wait up until the wee hours for a glimpse. The Moon returns to the evening sky as a nice young crescent on Oct 17. Look SW just as the skies really are getting dark. Use a pair of binoculars to find Mars just above and to the left in the twilight. It’s full on the 29, so it should still be a nice bright gibbous for trick-or-treating on the 31. For those who like Moon names, this is the Hunter’s Moon. The Harvest moon was back in September this year.

If planets are your thing, it’s not a great month.  You’ll need help to spot Mars. The best chance will be above that young crescent moon on the 17, or just below the crescent Moon on the 18th. It sets be 9 for most of the month.

Mercury actually reaches greatest eastward elongation at the end of the month. However, it is below the ecliptic, the inclination of the ecliptic is nearly parallel to the horizon at sunset, so it will be almost impossible to catch.

Saturn is in conjunction at the end of the month. Look for it in morning skies this winter.

Jupiter begins its return to evening skies, rising around 11 PM at the beginning of the month. By the end of the month, it rises by 8:30, so it should be easy to spot by 10 PM. The next few months will be the best time to view it.

Early risers should be on the lookout for Jupiter high overhead, and for Venus in the east just before sunrise. Look especially for Venus with a very old moon around 6 AM on Oct 12. They’ll be about 6 degrees apart in the pre-dawn sky.

October features to Orionid meteor shower. Peaking this year on Oct 20, this show is known for having a drawn out peak, so going out in the pre-dawn hours between Oct 18 – 22 is probably worth it. Look east. Of course, meteor showers are best see from dark skies…

Fall constellations are high, so if your skies aren’t too awful, look for the Perseus double cluster and Andromeda Galaxy. If they are that bad, the coat hanger cluster is still up, along with Alberio and epsilon lyrae (if you have a good ‘scope). Alcor and Mizar are always out, though they are a bit low at this time of year. And of course, it’s fall, so be sure to look for the disappearing Algol.

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1. Journey to the universe in October | The sky this month - October 6, 2012

[…] Urban Observing October 2012 (aquillam.wordpress.com) […]


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