Title: October Skywatch Highlights
Location: Hawaiian Islands
Date / Time: October 2012
Comments: Our Autumn skies are beautiful! The Summer Triangle is still viewable this month, midway up in the northwestern sky at sunset. This triangle is made up of three bright stars from three different constellations: ALTAIR, in Aquila the Eagle; VEGA, in Lyra the Harp; & DENEB, in Cygnus the Swan. And we now have Pegasus, Perseus, Andromeda (with the great Andromeda galaxy), & others joining the scene. Look for MARS about 15-degrees above the western horizon at dusk. The Red Planet moves quickly eastward relative to the background stars of Scorpius, and will appear within 4 degrees of the red super-giant star Antares, (the "heart" of the scorpion), from Oct. 15th ? 23rd. "Antares" derives from Greek words meaning "rival of Mars," a reference to the similar reddish color of these objects. View through binoculars to compare their ruddy hues. Antares, at 1.03 magnitude, shines a bit brighter than Mars, currently at 1.23 magnitude. On the 17th, the waxing crescent Moon will be below Mars & Antares, and then above the two on the 18th. It will be challenging to spot MERCURY this month, even though it reaches eastern elongation on the 26th. The tiny innermost planet hugs the western sky at dusk. Look west at about 6:40PM for a bright dot, (magnitude minus-0.15 at mid-month), about 5-degrees above the western horizon. You'll have less than a half hour to spot Mercury, since it sets at 7PM throughout the month. On Oct. 16th, you'll find Mercury less than one degree below a tiny crescent Moon. Look for stunning JUPITER climbing the eastern sky during late evenings. The giant planet lies between the horns of Taurus, fairly close to Aldebaran, the red-giant star which is the eye of the Bull. Jupiter rises around 10:15PM in early October, and 2 hours earlier by month's end. At magnitude minus -2.6 it dominates the late night & early morning sky. The best views thru a telescope come when Jupiter lies high in the sky during the early morning hours. With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Larger scopes will reveal Jupiter's dark equatorial belts, (one on either side of a brighter equatorial zone), the giant red spot, & other dynamic surface features. If you're an earlier riser, be sure to experience Orion, Gemini, Leo, Auriga, Canis Major, & other bold constellations which grace our predawn sky. As Jupiter climbs high in the south before dawn, an even brighter point of light, dazzling VENUS, rises to join the scene. Venus rises in the east around 3:30AM at the start of October, and at 4:15AM at the end of the month (still 90-minutes before twilight commences). Venus moves eastward against the background stars of Leo and crosses into Virgo on the 23rd. Blazing just over minus -4 magnitude all month, Venus is the brightest object in the sky except for the Sun & Moon. October SKYWATCH UPDATE IN PROGRESS... For an October Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

Maintained by Roz Reiner - Kauai, Hawaii

 

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