October 1, 2017 Edition

Lots to see in autumn skies

For October 2017, the moon is full. The Hunter’s Moon rises at sunset on Oct. 5. The last quarter moon is on Oct. 12. The waning crescent moon passes north of brilliant Venus and a much fainter Mars on the morning of Oct. 17.

The new moon on Oct. 19 will not interfere with the peak for the Orionid Meteor Shower on the morning of Oct. 20. This is debris from Comet Halley. Every three or four minutes, a comet would seem to come out of Orion’s head, were the skies dark enough. The waxing crescent moon passes three degrees north of Saturn in twilight on Oct. 24 and the first quarter moon is Oct. 27. Halloween this year will feature a waxing gibbous moon for amateur astronomers to treat the young visitors to.

Saturn, the only evening planet this month, is getting lower in the western sky daily after sunset and will be lost in the sun’s glare by late November. The action is before sunrise, with brilliant Venus passing only 0.2 degrees north of fainter red Mars on the morning of Oct. 5. Jupiter is lost in the sun’s glare all month but will emerge into the dawn sky in November.


M-31, the Andromeda Galaxy, is the most distant object visible with the naked eye, lying about 2.5 million light years distant. It is a bigger version of our own galaxy, which it may collide with about three billion years from now. Our feature photo is of this galaxy by Rick Johnston and shows it with its two smaller companion galaxies, M-32 and M-110. This is about how the galaxies appear in large amateur scopes. M-31, the Andromeda Galaxy, is the most distant object visible with the naked eye, lying about 2.5 million light years distant. It is a bigger version of our own galaxy, which it may collide with about three billion years from now. Our feature photo is of this galaxy by Rick Johnston and shows it with its two smaller companion galaxies, M-32 and M-110. This is about how the galaxies appear in large amateur scopes. A wonderful video exploring the October 2017 sky is available from the Hubble Space Telescope website at: http://hubblesite.org/ explore_ astronomy/tonights_ sky/.

The Big Dipper falls lower each evening. By the end of October, it will be only the three stars in the handle of the Dipper still visible in the northwestern twilight. By contrast, the Little Dipper, while much fainter, is always above our northern horizon, here along the Gulf Coast.

To the southwest, Antares and Scorpius also set soon after twilight and will be gone by month’s end. East of the Scorpion’s tail is the teapot shape of Sagittarius, which marks the heart of our Milky Way galaxy. Saturn lies just west of the pour spout now.

Looking like a cloud of steam coming out of the teapot’s spout is the fine Lagoon Nebula, M-8, easily visible with the naked eye. This stellar nursery is ablaze with new stars and streamers of gas and dust blown about in their energetic births. In the same binocular field just north of the Lagoon is M-20, the Trifid Nebula. Many other clusters are visible in binoculars as you sweep northward along the Milky Way. These are plotted on the sky map for the month.

The brightest star of the northern hemisphere, Vega dominates the sky overhead. To the northeast of Vega is Deneb, the brightest star of Cygnus the Swan. To the south is Altair, the brightest star of Aquila the Eagle, the third member of the three bright stars that make the Summer Triangle so obvious in the northeast these clear autumn evenings. To the east of Altair lies tiny Delphinus, a rare case of a constellation that does look like its namesake.

To the east, the square of Pegasus is a beacon of fall. South of it lies the only bright star of fall, Fomalhaut. If the southern skies of fall look sparse, it is because we are looking away from our galaxy into the depths of intergalactic space.

The constellation Cassiopeia makes a striking W, rising in the northeast as the Big Dipper sets in the northwest. Polaris lies about midway between them. She contains many nice star clusters for binocular users in her outer arm of our Milky Way, extending to the northeast now.

Her daughter, Andromeda, starts with the northeast corner star of Pegasus’ Square and goes northeast with two more bright stars in a row.

It is from the middle star, beta Andromeda, that we proceed about a quarter the way to the top star in the W of Cassiopeia and look for a faint blur with the naked eye.

PUBLIC GAZES

by the Escambia Amateur Astronomers begin at sunset and run ‘til 10 p. m.

Battery Worth on Ft. Pickens Friday V October 20th

We host our last Sky Interpretation Session of this our 10th year.

We set up at sunset and use the dark skies of the new moon to see the best galaxies, nebulae and clusters of the autumn sky overhead. No charge for any

EAAA event, but admission fees to the fort do apply.

Pensacola Beach Gulfside Pavilion Friday V September 29th & Saturday V September 30th

Friday V October 27th & Saturday V October 28th

This will be the final gaze on the beach this year, and starts at 6 p. m. with the first quarter moon high overhead. Be sure to bring out your Smartphones to get great shots of the moon through our scopes!

Big Lagoon State Park V Saturday V October 14th

Our last public gaze of the 2017 season. As with our other public gazes, we set up at sunset, and clear skies permitting, will get gazing well past 10 p. m. All our gazes are free, but regular admission to the state park is still required.

For more information on the Escambia Amateur Astronomers, visit www.eaaa.net or call Dr. Wayne Wooten in the Physical Sciences Department of Pensacola State College at (850) 484- 1152, or e- mail him at wwooten@pensacolastate.edu.

Join them on Facebook at Escambia Amateur Astronomers Association.

Download the October Evening Sky Map at skymaps.com for a list of the best objects to view with the naked eye, binoculars & scopes

2017-10-01 / Stargazing

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