As soon as darkness falls, look low in the southwestern sky for the waxing crescent moon and the red planet Mars. If you have an unobstructed horizon and clear skies, you might even catch the ruddy star Antares near the horizon with either the unaided eye or binoculars. For the Northern Hemisphere, Antares is a fixture of the summer season, and this star’s fading into the evening twilight is a sure sign of autumn drifting toward winter.
The young waxing crescent moon, Saturn and the star Antares will be tough to spot on October 25, 2014 for N. Hemisphere observers as dusk ebbs toward darkness. Easier from the S. Hemisphere! By October 26 and 27, the moon will be moving upward in the west after sunset, and it’ll soon sweep near Mars.
Deneb Kaitos ranks as the most brilliant star in the constellation Cetus the Whale. This star shines on par with Polaris the North Star. There is a famous variable star also in Cetus, called Mira. And Mira might sometimes brighten up enough to match Deneb Kaitos, though only extremely rarely. Mira typically remains much too faint to see with the unaided eye while, as seen from mid-latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere, Deneb Kaitos soars highest in the southern sky in autumn.
UPDATE OCTOBER 23 AT 7 P.M. CDT (MIDNIGHT UTC): The eclipse has now ended. Thanks for a great one, everybody!
North America has a ringside seat to the partial eclipse of the sun on October 23, and this eclipse is almost exclusively visible on land from North America. Eye safety is of the utmost importance in observing this solar eclipse, or else you risk eye injury or blindness. Click on the links in this post to find out more.
You’ll see the Small Magellanic Cloud from Earth’s Southern Hemisphere. It’s even farther to the south than its larger cousin, the the Large Magellanic Cloud . These two hazy patches in the southern sky are really separate galaxies from our Milky Way. They are satellite galaxies to the Milky Way, orbiting around it. Follow the links below to learn more about the Small Magellanic Cloud.
Tonight … October 20, 2014 … is the best time for watching the annual Orionid meteor shower. And an awesome shower it is! For one thing, it stems from debris from the most famous of all comets, Comet Halley. In fact, the object in the picture at top isn’t a meteor. It’s Comet Halley itself. Debris in the orbit of this comet – the Orionid meteor stream – is now encountering Earth’s atmosphere. The meteors will become visible in their greatest numbers tonight, and especially in the dark hours before dawn tomorrow morning (October 21). At the peak, from a dark site, you might expect to see about 25 meteors per hour.
Details on 2014’s Orionid meteor shower. It’ll peak on the morning of October 21. If you’re hankering to watch some meteors, try this shower! 2014 is a good year for them.