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Sky Report -October 2011

Hunters' Moon, Jupiter and Venus Seen in Early Dusk at end of October

Sky Sights all through October 2011 – The Summer Triangle appears well up in the West, with the very bright star Vega on the lower right point of the triangle. On moonless, clear evenings from dark areas in late October, the Milky Way can be seen as a gentle glow running across the upper part of the Triangle. The Southern evening sky is rather dull, save for the bright star Fomalhaut low in the South. The bright golden star Capella is prominent in the Northeast. As the hours pass, Capella will get higher while Vega sinks lower. After darkness covers the evening sky, the very bright planet Jupiter can be seen low in the East, outshining any of the night stars. You will notice that Jupiter shines steadily, not twinkling as the night stars.

Sky Sights in Early October 2011 – On October 1st, the crescent moon will appear above the bright star Antares of the Scorpion. On October 3rd, the evening moon will appear half full, resembling a tilted letter 'D'. So early October will be a good time to spot the moon's craters and mountain ranges with binoculars or telescope. Along the moon's left edge, the sun there is rising, catching the crater rims and mountain peaks. On October 9th and 10th, the evening moon will appear underneath the Great Square of Pegasus.

Sky Sights in Mid October 2011 – On the evening of October 11th, the moon is full, shining in Pisces, the Fishes. This full moon is a near re-run of last month's Harvest Moon, offering extra evening moonlight for the next four nights. Long ago, colonial hunters used the light of this moon to sight animals traipsing across the freshly harvested fields. On the next two evenings, the moon will appear above the bright planet Jupiter; the moon will be to the right of Jupiter on the 12th and to the left of Jupiter on the 13th. By October 19th, the moon will be rising after midnight. The moon then will be most conveniently viewed in the southern dawn, appearing as a reversed letter 'D'.

Sky Sights in Late October 2011 – As the end of October nears, you have an opportunity to spot the two brightest planets on opposite sides of the horizon. The brilliant planet Venus is getting easier to see in the western twilight. On October 27th, a slender crescent moon will appear above and to the left of Venus. Then low in the East, the very bright planet Jupiter will be in view. Jupiter will be closest to the Earth on the evening of October 28th., rising as the sun sets. While these two planets will be visible only briefly in late October, they will be both easier to view as the year comes to a close.

The Frostburg State Planetarium's October Program will be "Planet Peculiarities", all about the unusual features of the planets of our solar system. Also featured is an informal tour of the Fall evening sky using our Planetarium projector. Our free public programs are only on Sundays at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. These programs last about 50 minutes. The Planetarium is in Tawes 302, just off the front lobby that faces the Compton Science Center. Our programs change monthly and are free to the public. No reservations are needed, just come a little bit early as once programs start, it is difficult to seat visitors in a darkened planetarium.

By Dr. Bob Doyle

To contact Dr. Doyle, his mailing address is Planetarium, Frostburg State University, Frostburg, MD 21532 or by email at rdoyle@frostburg.edu.









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