September is finished … October constellations are well known as the water bearer Aquarius and the winged horse Pegasus. The remaining constellations of October are relatively unremarkable. The King Cepheus is visible all year. Lacerta extends from the head of Cepheus to the foot of Perseus, between Cygnus and Andromeda. Pegasus is visible from August through December. It represents the son of Neptune and Medusa who eventually became the thundering horse of Zeus and the carrier of his lightning bolts.
The Milky Way is visible in the zenith. The observation is affected by the Moon which is over 80% illuminated. It is Last Quarter Moon on 04 October. Deep sky observing and dim objects are best seen between 8 pm and 9 pm and prior midnight.
The small planet Mercury is best seen from 6.20 am to 6.40 am in the constellation Virgo and is very close to the Sun. The bright planet Venus is best seen from 3.20 am to 7.15 am in the constellation Leo and gets further away from the Sun. The red planet Mars is best seen from 3.50 am to 6.35 am in the constellation Leo. The giant planet Jupiter is best seen from 4.30 am to 6.55 am in the constellation and gets further from the Sun. The planet with the rings Saturn is best seen from 7.25 pm to 8.35 pm in the constellation Libra and moves in our skies closer to the Sun. For the planet Uranus you will need a small telescope or binocular. The planet is best seen from 8.35 pm to 5.30 am in the constellation Pisces.
The Sun rises in the East at 7.09 am and sets at 6.44 pm in the West.
Wednesday 30 September
Today in 1881 the Godalming town in Surrey voted to have the world's first public electricity supply. The contract expired that day with a gas company that lit the community's high street.
At 3.35 pm the planet Mercury is in conjunction and is only 3° separated from the Sun. The planet is not visible, but in the early morning as per above.
A few Iridium flares are visible. One at 7.42 pm in the North at altitude 47° in the constellation Cepheus. One at 8.06 pm in the South East at altitude 32° in the constellation Aquarius. A very bright flare at 8.14 pm in the South East at altitude 58° in the constellation Cygnus. After midnight in the early morning at 5.15 am a bright flare in the South West at 50° in the constellation Aries.
Thursday 01 October
Today in 2000 two hovercrafts that made marine history and had operated for 32 years, made the last trips across the English Channel. The Princess Margaret was launched in 1968 and followed a year later by the Princess Anne.
Comet C/2013 US10 Catalina may reach naked eye visibility. Keep an eye on my Twitter account or my webpages below.
At 7.37 pm a very bright Iridium flare appears in the North at 49° in the constellation Cepheus.
After midnight the meteor shower called Draconids might be seen. The maximum is rather irregular with some years with outbursts, and known for yellow colored meteors. Let’s see what it will be this year.
At 5.09 am an Iridium flare appears in the South South West at altitude 46° in the constellation Taurus.
The Moon is passing the Hyades in the constellation Taurus. At 6.10 am the Moon is close to the star Hyadum I. The limb separation is less than 1° or just over 1 lunar diameter. The Moon altitude is 49° and the Moon phase is 77%. The Sun elevation is -9.0° or it is still twilight. The Moon then passes the star Hyadum II with a limb separation of 2° or less than 4 lunar diameters. At 6.20 am the Moon is close to the star The1 Tau with a limb separation of less than 3° or just over 5 lunar diameters. The Moon is also close to the star The2 Tau with a limb separation of less than 3° and just over 5 lunar diameters. And at 6.35 am the Moon is close to the bright star Aldebaran. The limb separation is over 4° or 8 lunar diameters. The Moon altitude is then 49° and the Sun is at -6° altitude. The Moon occults Aldebaran for the northern Pacific at 2.14 pm. Watch this all in the early morning before Sunrise!
Friday 02 October
Today in 1836 Charles Darwin returned from his voyage on the HMS Beagle to the Pacific. It would be 23 years before he published his Origin of Species.
At 9.44 pm a flare appears in the North North West at altitude 28° in the constellation Ursa Major. This is an experimental flare prediction. Let us know what you observed. After midnight, in the early morning another flare appears at 5.03 am in the South South West at altitude 46° in the constellation Aries.
Saturday 03 October
Today in 1952 “Hurricane” the first British atomic bomb was tested at the Monte Bello in Australia. Britain was becoming the third country in the world to test such a weapon.
At 7.24 pm a very bright Iridium flare appears in the North in the constellation Cepheus. At 8 pm another bright flare appears in the South East at altitude 58° in the constellation Vulpecula.
The Moon is in maximum declination North at 0.52 am. This is the 2nd lowest Northernmost Moon position of the last 1000 years, the 2nd lowest of the last 100 years, the lowest of the last 10 years, the 3rd lowest of the next 100 years, the lowest of the next 10 years, the lowest of the year, the lowest of the decade, and the 2nd lowest of the century. Former lower Northern Northernmost Moon position was on 16 March 1997. The next lower Northern Northernmost Moon position is on 10 March 2090. If you can wait …
At 2.46 am the Moon is in maximum libration North. The Lunar North Pole and Mare Frigoris are tipped into the Earth’s view. This is the 2nd Northernmost total libration of the year. Former more Northern total libration was on 27 March 2015. The next more Northern total libration is on 14 January 2019.
At 6.27 am Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is in transit. You will need a small telescope of binocular to observe.
At 6.30 am the Moon in maximum libration. This is the 5th largest total libration of the last 1000 years, the largest of the last 100 years, the 2nd largest of the next 100 years, the largest of the next 10 years, the largest of the year, the largest of the decade, the 2nd largest of the century, and the 3rd largest of the millennium. The former larger total libration was on 10 November 1892 and the next larger total libration is on 14 October 2033.
Daylight, but at 9.16 am the Moon in maximum libration East. Mare Crisium limb is tipped into the Earth’s view. This is the 3rd Easternmost East libration of the last 10 years, the 3rd Easternmost of the next 10 years, and the Easternmost of the year. Former more Eastern East libration was on 14 September 2010 and the next more Eastern East libration is on 20 November 2016.
Sunday 04 October
Today in 1958 the first Trans Atlantic passenger jetliner service was inaugurated by British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) with flights between London Heathrow airport and New York Idlewild airport, now called JFK.
At 2.39 pm the Carrington Solar Rotation begin its Carrington rotation number 2169. Good to know for Solar observers …
At 7.18 pm an Iridium flare appears in the North at altitude 54° in the constellation Cepheus. The International Space Station (ISS) appears at 7.50 pm in the South South West horizon and disappears already after a few minutes at 7.53 pm in the South South East at 11°.
At 10.06 pm the Moon is in Last Quarter. This is the Northernmost Last Quarter Moon of the year. Former more Northern Last Quarter Moon was on 16 September 2014. The next more Northern Last Quarter Moon is on 23 September 2016. At 11.24 pm the Moon rises in the East North East in the constellation Gemini.
At midnight the Moon is close to the star A24 Geminorum. The limb separation is about 3° or about 7 lunar diameters. The altitude is only 6° and the Moon phase is 49%.
Monday 05 October
Steve Jobs died today in 2011 at the age of 56. He was born on 24 February 1955. Steven Paul Jobs was an American inventor and entrepreneur who co-founded Apple Inc. in 1976 with Steve Wozniak to manufacture personal computers. During his life he was issued or applied for 338 patents as either inventor or co-inventor of not only applications in computers, portable electronic devices and user interfaces, but also a number of others in a range of technologies.
At 7.52 pm a very bright Iridium flare in the South East at altitude 58° in the constellation Vulpecula. This is a spare satellite and its status is unknown. Let us know if you see.
The ISS appears at 8.33 pm at the South West horizon and disappears already after a few minutes at 8.36 pm in the South at 21° high.
At 9.56 pm an Iridium flare appears in the North North East at altitude 6° in the constellation Lynx. A brighter Iridium flare appears after midnight at 4.54 am in the South West at altitude 46° in the constellation Aries.
Tuesday 06 October
Today in 1995 the first discovery of a planet around a star similar to the Sun was announced. It was about 160 times the mass of the Earth around the star 51 Pegasus.
ISS appears at 7.41 pm in the South South West horizon. Culmination or highest point in the sky is at 7.46 pm in the South South East at 19° high. ISS disappears at 7. 47 pm in the South East at 17°.
The meteor shower called Draconids are best seen from 7.40 pm to 6 am. The local hour rate is expected to be 6. These are rather slow meteors with at velocity of approx. 24 km/s.
ISS appears at 9.16 pm in the West South West and disappears already after a few minutes at 9.19 pm in the West South West at 16° altitude.
The Gegenschein is visible after midnight. It is a faint glowing patch of sky relatively good for observation 42° above the Southern horizon and in the constellation Pisces.
Look at about 6 am for the Moon with Earthshine. The morning closes off at 6.24 am with an Iridium flare visible in the South South East at 45° in the constellation Monoceros. The altitude of the Sun is already -9°.
Wednesday 07 October
Today in 1970 the company BP made the first big oil find in the British sector of the North Sea. The Sea Quest drilling platform found oil 2135 meters below the seabed in a 170 meter layer in water depth of 128 meters. This was the first major oilfield discovered in the British sector of the North Sea.
The International Space Station (ISS) appears at 6.49 pm in the South South West. Culmination or highest point in the sky is at 6.54 pm in the South East at 13°. ISS disappears at 6.57 pm in the East.
At 7 pm an Iridium flare appears in the North North East at 59° in the constellation Cepheus. The Sun is not quite far under the horizon. Another flare appears at 7.41 pm in the South East at an altitude of 56° in the constellation Vulpecula.
The meteor shower called Draconids are best seen from 7.40 pm to 6 am. The local hour rate is expected to be 9 and the slow velocity is 24 km/s.
ISS appears at 8.24 pm in the West South West and disappears after a few minutes at 8.29 pm in the South at 40°.
At 9.40 pm a flare appears in the North at 29° high in the constellation Ursa Major. This is an experimental flare prediction. Please report a successful observation.
After midnight the Gegenschein can be observed. It is a faint glowing patch of sky relatively good for observation 43° above the Southern horizon and in the constellation Pisces.
Look at 6 am for the Moon with Earthshine.
Get in touch with me via www.patrickpoitevin.weebly.com if you need more information.
Ashbourne SKY WATCH week 30 September – Special: Autumn skies
The Earth moves around the Sun. Autumn is under way in our Northern Hemisphere. Want to know what to see in the night skies? You probably have noticed the season's change. The Summer Triangle has worked its way Westward in the meanwhile. The brighter "band" of the Milky Way in the constellation Sagittarius disappears into the South West. And the Big Dipper has turned low in the North East.
In the North East the large constellation Perseus rises. Above Perseus the W-shaped constellation Cassiopeia. Easy to recognize. This constellation reveals many fine star clusters to an observer with binoculars or a small telescope. Below Perseus, low in the North East, you will see the bright star Capella. Capella gets a little higher each night as we move through autumn.
Maybe the most obvious constellation of a Northern autumn is Pegasus. It is the winged horse of the Greek legend. The constellation Pegasus is shown as a “Great Square”. The square lays just South East of the zenith in the middle of November. The size of the square in the sky is nearly as much as a closed fist. Attached to Pegasus is the constellation Andromeda. In Andromeda there is the famous Andromeda galaxy. The Andromeda Galaxy can be seen easily with the unaided eye in dark sky as a faint, misty, oval patch near the star Mirach in the constellation Andromeda. Don’t underestimate this dim fuzzy patch… it’s actually a galaxy like our own Milky Way, though somewhat larger, with some 200 billion stars. The light from the Andromeda Galaxy has been traveling through space for 2 million years before it enters your eye.
In November later in the evening look to the East for the rising Pleiades star cluster, which lies within the small V-shaped constellation Taurus, the Bull. The appearance of Taurus with its bright orange star Aldebaran marks the coming of winter in our northern hemisphere. East of Taurus, in late November and December look for the grand constellation Orion, the Hunter, rising above the Eastern horizon. The tidy line of three bright stars marks the “belt” of the ancient constellation. The constellation Orion and his neighbors will be dominating the evening skies, reminding us of the approaching winter season. It will get colder, of not, already is!
Some sky guiding ...
Extend the 3 bright stars in the belt of Orion and you will see a brighter star nearer to the horizon. It is the star Sirius, the brightest star in the Northern hemisphere. Sirius is in Canis Major or the Big Dog. Look at the stars in the constellation Orion and you will see color differences. The star top left is called Betelgeuse. The star bottom right is called Rigel.
Some navigating from the Big Dipper or Ursa Major onwards:
• Extend the back side of the Big Dipper about five times and you will end up at the star Polaris or North Star. Polaris is in Ursa Minor.
• Extend from the middle star in the handle for the Big Dipper, through Polaris and you will end up in the "W shaped" constellation Cassiopeia.
• Follow "the curve" of the handle of the Big Dipper and you end up at the star Arcturus in the constellation of Bootes.
• Go along the star Arcturus in the same curve as above and you will end up at the star Spica in the constellation Virgo.
• Extend only the first two stars of the "curved handle" of the Big Dipper and you will end up in the constellation Hercules.
• In opposite direction, through the Big Dipper "square", you will end up in the constellation Gemini.
• Use the top stars of the Big Dipper "square" and you will end up at the star Capella in the constellation Auriga.
• Extend the first two stars of the Big Dipper "square" and to the left you end up at the star Deneb in the constellation Cygnus.
• The same but extend to the right and you will end up at the star Regulus in the constellation Leo.
There is some water in the autumn sky
During the mid and late evening hours, the stars of the autumn season cover much of the Eastern and Southern parts of the night sky. In fact, this whole area has been called the "Celestial Sea," because many of the constellations have an association with water.
Looking toward the South South East is one member of this watery constellation called "Aquarius." Many of us have heard the song with the same name and know what the constellation Aquarius really is. This constellation represents a man holding a water jar which is spilling a vaguely marked stream of water Southward into the mouth of the constellation Pisces Austrinus, the Southern Fish. The jar is marked by an inverted Y shaped group of four stars.
The stars that make up Pisces Austrinus usually cannot be seen for our latitude. It is too low on the horizon and the stars most likely get lost due to trees, hills or even haze. At more Southerly latitudes such as Spain, Italy, etc. these stars are much higher up in the sky.
The main star in Pisces Austrinus is Fomalhaut. Fomalhaut is, ranked as 18th brightest star in the sky and the only first magnitude star in the whole collection of watery constellations. Fomalhaut, somewhat isolated, lies in an empty region of the autumn skies, and is sometimes referred to as "The Solitary One." It can be identified by extending a line along the Western or right side of the Great Square of Pegasus about three times its own length.
It is often described in various observing books as "reddish," though it is probable that the effects of our atmosphere are responsible for this impression, as this star is always seen at a low altitude. Fomalhaut is Arabic for "mouth of the fish." It lies at a distance of 25 light years, a star approximately twice the diameter of our Sun and 19 times more luminous. If you look at Fomalhaut tonight, you're looking at light that left that star in 1989.