October 13, 2013

Sky this Month: October 2013

by Mike Meynell

Here is a list of objects to view in the sky in October 2013:

  • Penumbral Lunar Eclipse on 18 October. The Moon will enter Earth’s penumbral shadow at 22:48 BST on 18 October with mid-eclipse occurring at 00:50 BST on 19 October.
  • Comet C/2012 S1 ISON. Still very faint – around 10th magnitude. At 5am on the morning of Tuesday 15 October, Comet ISON will be in a direct line between Regulus (Alpha Leonis) – the brightest star in the constellation of Leo, about 20 degrees high in the east, and the planet Mars, which will be a similar brightness to Regulus, but with a distinctive pinkish colour.
  • Jupiter, Mars, Uranus and Neptune:
    • Mars is still a long way from Earth… around 2 astronomical units – so it does appear small in a telescope at present. This will improve in spring next year, but its altitude will drop in the sky as it reaches opposition – though it will appear four times larger than it does now.
    • Jupiter is very high in the sky just before dawn – around 50 degrees high in Gemini and, as usual, a magnificent sight through even a small telescope.
    • Uranus has just passed opposition, so will be visible all night – look out for it’s greenish colour through a telescope.
    • Venus is visible just after sunset, but is very low in the sky. Mercury is even harder to view this month.
    • Saturn, unfortunately, is not visible this month, but starts to return to our pre-dawn skies early next year.
  • Pleiades – M45. From the constellation of Orion – up and to the right is a V-shape of dim stars, tilted to the left, with a bright orange-red star (Aldebaran) at the top left of the V. Step from the upper right shoulder of Orion, to Aldebaran, to a small cluster of stars, the Pleiades (or “Seven Sisters”).
  • The Garnet Star. It is high overhead, about 70 degrees above the horizon in the northwest at around 11pm in the constellation of Cepheus. Find Cepheus between Cassiopeia and Cygnus (with the bright star Deneb most prominent). Imagine a line between Zeta Cephei (mag +3.4) and Alderamin (Alpha Cephei) at mag +2.5. Just under half way along and about 3 degrees to the left, you will easily spot the star at magnitude 4 or so at the moment. Try defocussing slightly to enhance the colour.

The presentation is shown in the video below. Watch it full screen to see the star maps clearly. Press the spacebar to pause and restart the video. If the video is not displayed correctly below, watch it on Vimeo here.


Posted under: Flamsteed, Sky This Month