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Sky Report - October 2012


Jupiter Moves into Late Evening Sky, Orion Meteor Shower and Hunter's Moon on 29th.

Sights Seen All Through October - The Big Dipper is lowest in the North on October evenings. High in the North is Cassiopeia, whose five bright stars resemble a stretched out letter 'M'. The Summer Triangle features its brightest star Vega in the Northwest. Low in the South is the bright star Fomalhaut, of the Southern Fish. The bright golden star Capella is prominent in the Northeast. To the right of Capella is the Seven Sisters star cluster, resembling a tiny dipper (but it's not the Little Dipper, which is always in the North). Below the Seven Sisters is the orange star Aldebaran, marking the eye of Taurus. At the start of October, the very bright planet Jupiter is prominent in the last hour of the evening. By the end of October, Jupiter will be rising two hours earlier and is easily seen after 9 p.m.

Early October Sights - The Hunter's Moon provides some extra evening moonlight the first few days of October. On Wednesday, October 3rd, the brilliant planet Venus in the southeastern dawn appears very close to Regulus, the bright star marking Leo's heart. On October 5th, the moon appears near the bright planet Jupiter in the eastern sky after 10:30 p.m. On the morning of October 8th, the moon appears half full in the southern dawn.

Mid October Sights - On October 12th, the crescent moon appears South of the brilliant planet Venus in the southeastern dawn. On October 15th, the moon swings from the morning to the evening side of the sun. On October 18th, the crescent moon appears low in the 7:15 p.m. southwestern dusk above and to the left of the planet Mars. Underneath the moon is the pinkish star Antares of the Scorpion.

Late October Sights - The early morning hours of October 21st are best for observing the Orionid meteor shower. A meteor shower occurs when the Earth crosses a comet's orbit and the Earth gets bombed with comet grit. This comet grit gets burned up many miles above the Earth's surface, producing a meteor or 'falling star'. This meteor shower is called the Orionid as the meteors can be traced back to a region in the star group Orion. The Orionids are due to debris from Halley's Comet which last passed through the inner solar system in 1986. The evening moon also appears half full on October 21st, setting about the middle of the night. On October 29th, the moon is full. This full moon is called the Hunters' Moon. Long ago, the extra moonlight given off by this full moon allowed hunters to see animals traipsing across freshly harvested fields.

Our Science Sunday presentation on October Sundays is "Mammals of Europe", shown in Compton 224 at 4 p.m . Our half hour program is followed by a tour of the Science Discovery Center, with its outstanding display of global wildlife. The Compton Science Center is close to the Performing Arts Center with plenty of nearby parking.

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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