Podcaster: Rob Webb
Title: Observing With Webb in October 2013
Organization: Physics teacher at Pequea Valley High School
Description: October is a pretty normal month, but it also gives us more opportunities to check out the sky, given that the sun is setting earlier, rising later, and we have football games on Friday nights. Get out there!
Bio: Rob Webb is a physics, astronomy, and sustainability teacher at Pequea Valley High School in Pennsylvania. His passions include teaching, astronomy, astrophotography, planetariums, running, reading, and golf. A proud graduate of Dickinson College in 2005, he also obtained a Master’s Degree in Science Education from Penn State University after conducting research in regards to the current state of planetariums in Pennsylvania. Feel free to contact him at email@example.com
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October is a pretty normal month, but it also gives us more opportunities to check out the sky, given that the sun is setting earlier, rising later, and we have football games on Friday nights. Get out there!
1st – Close Encounter – Mars, Moon – Get out early in the morning and check out the thin and low crescent Moon. Up and to the left about 8˚ will be Mars
New Moon – 4th (darkest skies)
6th – Close Encounter – Moon, Saturn, Mercury – If you’ve got a good view of the western horizon, you MIGHT be able to catch a very thin crescent Moon with Saturn 4˚ above it and Mercury 2˚ down and to the left. It will be difficult to see without a clear horizon (no trees or mountains in the way) and binoculars.
7th – 8th – Close Encounter – Moon, Venus – Look West after the Sun sets and look for a very thin waxing crescent Moon. On the 7th, Venus will be 9˚ to the left of the Moon and on the 8th the Moon will be 6˚ above and to the left of bright Venus, which will be the first “star” you see in that direction.
First Quarter Moon – 11th (Visible until midnight)
12th – Triple Shadow Transit on Jupiter (telescope necessary) – 12:32am – 1:37am – The shadows of Io, Europa, and Callisto will all be seen on Jupiter. You’ll need to have a telescope and a good view of the ENE horizon, since it will be low.
Full Moon – 18th (Visible all night)
18th – If you hear anything about a Lunar Eclipse today, it’s only a penumbral eclipse, which you really can’t see, so don’t get excited. More info at skypub.com/oct2013eclipse
25th – Close Encounter – Moon & Jupiter – Find the almost 3rd quarter moon, and then find the bright point about 7˚ up and to the left, and you’ll be looking at Jupiter.
Last Quarter Moon – 26th (Visible from midnight into the morning)
29th – Close Encounter – Mars, Moon – Get out early in the morning and check out the crescent Moon. To the left about 7˚ will be Mars.
PLANETS…well, the ones visible with your naked eye
Planets you can see around Sunset – Venus (W)
Planets you can see throughout the night – Jupiter (E)
Planets you can see in the Morning – Jupiter (S), Mars (E)
Mercury – Not very visible this month
Venus – Sets pretty quickly after sunset (around 8pm), and will be very low in the West. Closest to the Moon on the 8th.
Mars – Look East after 3:30am and before sunrise, you may be able to locate it close to the horizon – about 25˚- 40˚ above it. It’s hanging out around the right-hand side of Leo this month. Look between Jupiter and the horizon. Close to the Moon on the 1st and 29th.
Jupiter – Look East after 12am for the brightest “star” before the sun rises. By sunrise, it’ll be 70˚ above the horizon. Close to the Moon on the 25th.
Saturn – Very tough to find in the west after Sunset, and disappears behind the Sun around mid-month.
CONSTELLATIONS… (see sky map link at the bottom for a Star Map for this month – or ask Mr. Webb) Look straight up and you’ll see…
Just after Sunset (sunset is around 6:30pm) – Cygnus the Swan and Lyra the Harp
Between Sunset and Midnight – Lacerta, Pegasus (the Great Square)
Midnight – Pegasus, Andromeda – Extra Challenge! Using your naked eye (dark-adapted and in a dark area) or binoculars under normal conditions and a star chart, try finding our neighboring Andromeda Galaxy. It’ll be a faint, but bigger, fuzzy in the constellation Andromeda.
Early Morning – Auriga, Gemini – Extra Challenge! Using binoculars, find the bright and open cluster M35. Find Gemini, look at the rightmost leg, go down to the foot, and move 2-3 degrees to the right (W).
GENERAL CONSTELLATION FINDING TIPS:
Summer Constellations: Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila, Delphinus
Look up after sunset and you’ll be able to see Lyra (the Harp), Cygnus (the Swan), Aquila (the Eagle), (and Delphinus the Dolphin.) These three constellations have the three brightest stars of the summer constellations (Vega, Deneb, Altair – respectively.) Those bright stars create the summer triangle. Off to the east of this is the small but beautiful constellation of Delphinus. Being summer constellations and it being fall right now, they are setting and are visible for a shorter period of time each day. If you’re under dark skies (away from city lights) you may just catch a glimpse of the Milky Way passing through Cygnus and Aquila.
Fall Constellations: Andromeda, Pegasus
If you can find the Summer Triangle and Delphinus, about 40˚ to the East (leftish) will be the Great Square of the fall constellation Pegasus. Perhaps you’ll even see the two curves of Andromeda off of one side, with the Andromeda Galaxy as a small, faint fuzzy nearby (you’ll need dark skies to see it). A sky map will help you tremendously in finding these. You’ll see these in the East after sunset, straight above you around midnight, and in the West in the morning.
Use a sky map from www.skymaps.com to help you out.
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365 Days of Astronomy
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