Algol is the Demon Star

What’s the scariest star in all the heavens? Around Halloween, look for Algol – a star named for a demon! How to see it in your sky.

Halloween is a cross-quarter day

The 4 cross-quarter days fall between equinoxes and solstices. Halloween is the spookiest one – derived from a sacred festival of ancient Celts and Druids – coming as days grow short and nights long in the Northern Hemisphere.

Star chart showing relationship between star Arcturus and Big Dipper.

Halloween ghost of the summer sun

At mid-northern latitudes, the star Arcturus sets about 2 hours after sunset around Halloween. It sets at the same point on the horizon as the summer sun. It’s a Halloween ghost of the summer sun and an echo of long summer afternoons.

Starry streaks, aka "star trails," can be seen in this long-exposure photo. The asteroid meanwhile appears as a single point, because it is so near us, and because the telescope is tracking the asteroid, not the stars.

Asteroid to sweep between moon and Earth tonight: How to watch online

Gianluca Masi of the Virtual Telescope Project in Rome said he just managed to capture an image of a small asteroid – labeled 2019 UB8 – coming very close on October 29, at about half the moon’s distance. Details here.

Simple diagram showing Earth and Venus orbits around the sun, in relationship to each other, in the year 2020.

What’s a node?

Venus passes its descending node on Friday at 2 UTC. What is it? And why does astronomer Guy Ottewell say that nodes “shape the orbits of the moving bodies and set them up for whatever else happens” … ?

Streaks of light in circles against a black background.

What are star trails, and how can I capture them?

Star trails are the continuous paths created by stars, produced during long-exposure photos, such as the images in this post.

Illustration of the whole Earth around midnight in Europe, with the Orionid meteor stream encountering Earth from overhead.

Early this week, watch for the Orionids

Charts and insights about this week’s Orionid meteor shower from astronomer Guy Ottewell.

Close-up on Cassiopeia the Queen

It’s an easy constellation to identify because it has the shape of an M or W. On these October evenings, look for Cassiopeia the Queen high in the northeast sky, not far from the North Star.

Zoom in on the Ghost Nebula

Nebula IC 63 – in the direction of our constellation Cassiopeia – is slowly dissipating under the influence of ionizing ultraviolet radiation from a hot, luminous variable star known as Gamma Cas.

All you need to know: Orionid meteor shower

Details on the annual Orionid meteor shower.  How and when to watch. In 2019, the peak mornings are probably October 21 or 22. But try watching now, before dawn, despite a bright moon.