Monthly Sky Report - October 2006
To find the planets, bright stars and groups, you need to know the compass
directions where you watch the sky. Lacking a compass, you can use the
sun at the start, middle and end of the day. As you face the rising sun
- it will be rising nearly in the East. In mid day (around 1 p.m. DST),
look at your shadow which then points North. The sun will set nearly
in the West.
During October, there is an average of 11.2 hours of sunlight each day.
During October, the sunsets drop back from 6:58 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. (DST).
Sunrises change from 7:11 a.m. early in the month to 7:42 a.m.(DST) at
month's end. Stars begin to fade away an hour before sunrise and the
star groups come into view an hour after sunset. In the early evening,
there are two very bright stars visible, golden Capella low in the Northeast
and white-blue Vega high in the West. The star Vega is brightest star
of the Summer Triangle, a trio of bright stars. As Capella gets higher
each hour, Vega descends as if the two stars were opposite ends of a
plank pivoted at the North Star. The brightest point of light in the
evening sky is the planet Jupiter, appearing low in the West at it gets
dark. In October, the planets Mars, Venus and Mercury are too close to
the sun to be easily seen. The planet Saturn can be seen in the South
at dawn, shining in eastern Leo.
for Early October
At the start of October, the moon appears about half full low in the
western twilight. The evening moon grows to full on October 6th, then
in the star group Pisces. This is the Harvest Moon, a full moon that
lingers for the next few nights in the early evening sky.
for Mid October
After mid October, the moon rises after midnight and is best viewed at
dawn. The early evening will then be great for viewing the Milky Way,
the ghostly glow along the central plane of our galaxy. As it gets dark,
the Milky Way can be seen in the northern sky, running from "M" shaped
Cassiopeia, across the Summer Triangle, then down to the western horizon.
for Late October
On October 25th, a slender crescent moon appears near the pinkish bright
star Antares in the Scorpion. On October 29th, the moon will appear half
full among the stars of Capricornus. This is the best lighted shape of
the moon to view the craters and mountains. Along the moon's straight
edge, the sun is rising, lighting up the crater rims and mountain peaks.
Our October Planetarium presentation is "Favorite Star Stories",
shown on Sundays at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. The Planetarium is in Tawes 302,
near the middle of the Frostburg State campus.