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Sky Happenings
Moab UT (at City Hall)
38O34’ N Latitude 109O33’ W Longitude
4048 ft - 1234 m




The Sky for October 2010

By Faylene Roth


Sunrise and Sunset Times for
October 2010

1

7:14am

7:01pm

2

7:15am

6:59pm

3

7:16am

7:58pm

4

7:17am

6:56pm

5

7:18am

6:55pm

6

7:19am

6:53pm

7

7:20am

6:52pm

8

7:21am

6:50pm

9

7:22am

6:49pm

10

7:23am

6:47pm

11

7:23am

6:46pm

12

7:24am

6:44pm

13

7:25am

6:43pm

14

7:26am

6:41pm

15

7:27am

6:40pm

16

7:28am

6:39pm

17

7:29am

6:37pm

18

7:30am

6:36pm

19

7:31am

6:34pm

20

7:32am

6:33pm

21

7:33am

6:32pm

22

7:34am

6:30pm

23

7:35am

6:29pm

24

7:36am

6:28pm

25

7:38am

6:26pm

26

7:39am

6:25pm

27

7:40am

6:24pm

28

7:41am

6:23pm

29

7:42am

6:22pm

30

7:43am

6:20pm

31

7:44am

6:19pm

MOON HAPPENINGS
October 7 – New Moon occurs at 12:44pm
October 14 – First Quarter Moon sets after midnight
October 22 – Full Moon rises at 6:03pm
October 30 – Last Quarter Moon sets at 2:20pm
(The time of moonrise and moonset assumes a flat horizon. Actual time may vary.)

METEOR ACTIVITY
The Piscid Meteor Showers produce slow-moving meteors with long trains throughout the month. Peak activity is expected the night of October 7 which coincides with the new moon, so viewing will be optimum. The radiant for this shower is on the border between Pisces and Aries (below Great Square of Pegasus). At the same time watch the circumpolar region around Draco for the Draconid Meteor Showers. They peak October 7-10. A crescent moon sets well before midnight. The Epsilon-Geminid Meteor Showers span the first three weeks of the month. Best viewing of these fast-moving meteors is the morning of October 14/15. The major meteor shower of October competes with a waxing gibbous moon that dominates the sky from dusk until dawn. The Orionid Meteor Showers are active October 17-25. Peak activity occurs the night of October 21/22, one day before the full moon, with major activity October 20-24. Best time for viewing meteor activity is when the radiant constellation is overhead—usually between midnight and 4:00am.

COMET VIEWING
Comet Hartley 2 makes its closest approach to Earth this month. Track it with binoculars or telescope as it moves through Cassiopeia and into Perseus during the first week of October. By October 18 it is bright enough at +5 magnitude to be seen with the unaided eye east of Capella in Auriga. At its closest approach, the comet is visible throughout the night, but best viewing is around 2:30am when it is overhead. Look for a long tail pointing southwest. Its brightness then fades as it moves on towards Gemini and across the southern celestial hemisphere.

LOCAL STAR COUNT
Join Red Rock Astronomers at Old City Park on Sunday, October 3, at 8:00pm for a tour of the night sky and telescope viewing. Meet at the southwest corner of the park below the bandstand and the duck pond. Bring a chair or blanket for easy viewing. Sponsored by WabiSabi. All ages are welcome. For information call 259-4743 or 259-3313.
Note: Hold your hand at arm’s length to measure apparent distances in the sky. The width of the little finger approximates 1.5 degrees. Middle, ring, and little finger touching represent about 5 degrees. The width of a fist is about 10 degrees. The fist with the thumb extended at a right angle equals 15 degrees. The hand stretched from thumb to little finger approximates 20-25 degrees. The diameter of both the full moon and the sun spans only 0.5 degree. Adjust for the size of your hand.

Primary Sources: USGS; U.S. Naval Observatory; Your Sky at http://www.fourmilab.ch/yoursky/

To find out when the space shuttle and International Space Station are visible from your location, go to: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/index.html and click on Sighting Opportunities.

VISIBLE PLANETS
Jupiter - Brilliant Jupiter continues to shine at peak magnitude for Earth viewers. It recently passed its point of opposition (Jupiter and the sun are on opposite sides of Earth). It rises with Aquarius in the southeastern sky before sunset and reaches its zenith by midnight. Jupiter remains visible throughout the night for most of the month, setting on the western horizon before sunrise. Look for a waxing gibbous moon directly above Jupiter on the evening of October 19. (Magnitude -2.9)

Mars - It is difficult to see the red planet as its orbit sweeps it out of view and towards the back side of the sun. If Venus is visible on the western horizon on October 1, then look for Mars above and to its left. In the early evening twilight of October 9 look for Mars to the upper right of a thin waxing crescent moon with Venus at the moon’s lower right. Binoculars may be needed. During the last week of September Mars moved from Virgo to Libra. It enters the domain of Scorpius by the end of October, appearing to the right of the scorpion’s head. (Magnitude +1.5)

Saturn - The ringed planet is in conjunction with the sun this month. By month’s end, it rounds the back side of the sun and reappears in the morning sky.

Uranus - Don’t miss Uranus! It is usually difficult to pick out from the background stars, but this month it moves across the sky with Jupiter, both in Aquarius. Uranus shines with a blue-green light at the limit of detection with the unaided eye in a dark sky. With binoculars it can be seen above and to the left, within two degrees, of Jupiter. (Magnitude +5.8)
Venus - Catch Venus low on the western horizon soon after sunset during the first two weeks of the month. A telescope reveals the planet in its crescent phase as it nears conjunction with the sun. On October 9 a waxing crescent moon returns to the night sky with Venus at its lower right and Mars above. Venus sets on October 19 as the sun sets and disappears from view for the rest of the month. (Magnitude -4.3)

Note: Apparent magnitude values range from -4 to +6 for most planets and visible stars. The lower the value the brighter the object. A decrease of 1.0 magnitude is 2.5 times brighter.

MAJOR CONSTELLATIONS this MONTH

Overhead
Aquila
Andromeda
Cygnus
Delphinus
Lyra
Pegasus



Northward
Cassiopeia
Cepheus
Draco
Ursa Major
Ursa Minor


Eastward
Aries
Auriga
Cetus
Perseus
Pisces
Taurus
Triangulum

Southward
Aquarius
Capricornus
Sagittarius




Westward
Bootes
Corona Borealis
Hercules
Ophiucus

Ursa Major (aka Big Dipper, Plow, Wagon, Big Bear) dips so low in the northern sky this month that it can be difficult to see without a clear view of the horizon.

Hold the star chart high above your head and match the compass directions to the direction you are facing.
Adjust the star chart by orienting Ursa Major (Big Dipper) to match its position in the sky.

The star chart approximates the night sky from astronomical twilight to midnight. As the night and the month progress, the constellations will shift toward the northwest.

 

 
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