Moab Happenings Archive
Return to home

NIGHT SKY HAPPENINGS

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

The Sky for October 2016
By Faylene Roth

 

Sunrise-Sunset
for October

(The time of sunrise and sunset assumes a flat horizon. Actual time may vary depending upon the landscape.)

DATE

SUNRISE

SUNSET

1

7:15am

7:00pm

2

7:15am

6:59pm

3

7:16am

6:57pm

4

7:17am

6:55pm

5

7:18am

6:54pm

6

7:19am

6:52pm

7

7:20am

6:51pm

8

7:21am

6:49pm

9

7:22am

6:48pm

10

7:23am

6:46pm

11

7:24am

6:45pm

12

7:25am

6:43pm

13

7:26am

6:42pm

14

7:27am

6:41pm

15

7:28am

6:39pm

16

7:29am

6:38pm

17

7:30am

6:36pm

18

7:31am

6:35pm

19

7:32am

6:34pm

20

7:33am

6:32pm

21

7:34am

6:31pm

22

7:35am

6:30pm

23

7:36am

6:28pm

24

7:37am

6:27pm

25

7:38am

6:26pm

26

7:39am

6:25pm

27

7:40am

6:23pm

28

7:41am

6:22pm

29

7:42am

6:21pm

30

7:43am

6:20pm

31

7:44am

6:19pm

The dominant feature of the autumn evening sky is the Great Square (about 15 ̊ per side) which outlines the body of Pegasus the flying horse. The legs of the horse (two diverging lines of stars) originate at the upper corner of the square. The neck extends out about 15̊ from the corner star to the right. The head bends back northward. If you follow this line westward, you will find the tiny constellation Delphinus the dolphin composed of five faint stars about 13 ̊ from the head of Pegasus or about 30 ̊ from the corner star. Altair (Aquila the eagle) is the bright star about 12 ̊ beyond the dolphin. Andromeda the constellation is formed by two long arcs trailing off the lower east corner of the Great Square. Find Andromeda the galaxy by counting two stars away from this same corner on the lower arc of the Andromeda constellation then count two stars up. Our neighboring galaxy can be seen as a fuzzy blur about 1.5̊ to the right of the second very faint star. South of the Great Square is the small trapezoidal head of Pisces the fish. Below Pisces is the hexagonal water bag of Aquarius the water carrier. On a lucky night you can see the loneliest—and southernmost—star in our night sky below Aquarius. Fomalhaut (Piscis Austrinus the southern fish) is a 1st magnitude star located 30 ̊ south of the celestial equator (which runs west to east between Pisces and Aquarius).

Twilight extends the period of daylight in three stages at each end of the day. Morning twilight begins with astronomical twilight—about 1-1/2 hours (nearly 2 during summer months) before sunrise—as the eastern horizon brightens. Nautical twilight continues—as the overhead sky turns blue and color returns to the surrounding landscape—for another 30-40 minutes. The final stage—civil twilight—provides adequate light for most outdoor activities for the half hour before the sun crests the horizon. The opposite progression occurs after sunset.

VISIBLE PLANETS
Evening (Before Midnight)

Mars – The last of the evening planets to set, the faint red disk of Mars lingers in Sagittarius due east of Saturn. It sets by 10pm at month’s end. (Magnitude +0.4)

Saturn – Saturn sticks with Scorpius throughout the month, both setting earlier each evening. By October 28/29 it drops below the horizon by 8pm alongside Venus. (Magnitude +1.3)

Venus – If Scorpius is visible above the southeastern horizon at midmonth, then you could get a glimpse of Venus during the early stages of nautical twilight. It sets by 8pm throughout the month which means it disappears from our view before twilight ends. (Magnitude -3.8)

Morning (At Twilight)

Jupiter
– Jupiter reappears due east in the morning sky midmonth as twilight spreads across the eastern horizon. (Magnitude -1.5)

Mercury – Mercury makes an appearance midmonth in late morning twilight with Jupiter but you will probably need binoculars to see it. (Magnitude -1.0)

MOON HAPPENINGS
October 1 – New moon (6:11pm) yields dark skies for several nights.
October 9 – Waxing first quarter lights the evening sky then sets soon after midnight.
October 15 – Full moon (10:23pm) rises at 6:57pm.
October 22 – Dark evening skies return with the waning last quarter moon rising after midnight.
October 30 – New moon (11:38am) yields dark skies for several nights.

Twilight is often the best time to look for Venus and Mercury because they frequently rise or set within one-half to one hour of sunrise or sunset. Twilight transitions between night and day in three stages at each end of the day. Morning twilight begins with astronomical twilight as the eastern horizon brightens —about 1-1/2 hours (nearly 2 during summer months) before sunrise when the sun is 18 ̊ below the horizon. Nautical twilight takes over for another 30-40 minutes—as the sun passes 12 ̊ below the horizon and the overhead sky turns blue and color returns to the surrounding landscape. The final stage—civil twilight—begins when the sun ascends to 6 ̊ below the horizon and provides adequate light for most outdoor activities for the half hour before the sun crests the horizon. The opposite progression occurs after sunset. Civil twilight covers the period after sunset during which daytime light quality persists for about one-half hour. Color then fades from the landscape during the 30-40 minute period of nautical twilight during which the overhead sky darkens while the western sky retains color. Astronomical twilight then transitions to night skies that are now darkened along the horizon.

MAJOR METEOR EVENTS
Shower
Peak
(Oct)
Range
(Oct)
Constellation Radiant
Rate
(/hr)
Details
Conditions
Orionids

21/22
15-29
Orion
15
Bright, fast, long-lasting trains; occasional fireballs
Waning gibbous moon rises after midnight
Best time to view any meteor event is between midnight and morning twilight when the radiant is overhead. Trace the path of any meteor backwards through the sky to reach its radiant--the region of the sky from which meteors appear to originate.

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.

The star chart approximates the sky from astronomical twilight to midnight. As the night and month progresses, the constellations shift toward the northwest. The celestial equator is measured in hours (h). The ecliptic is measured in degrees

Note: Hold your hand at arm’s length to measure apparent distances in the sky. The width of the little finger approximates 1.5̊. Middle, ring, and little finger touching represent about 5̊. The width of a fist is about 10̊. The fist with the thumb extended at a right angle equals 15̊. The hand stretched from thumb to little finger approximates 20̊-25̊. The diameter of both the full moon and the sun spans only 0.5̊. Adjust for the size of your hand.

 
Return to home

© 2002-2016 Moab Happenings. All rights reserved.
Reproduction of information contained in this site is expressly prohibited.