Oct 5th: Observing With Webb in October 2019

By on October 5, 2019 in

Podcaster: Rob Webb

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Title: Observing With Webb in October 2019

Organization: Physics teacher at Pequea Valley High School

Link: http://mrwebb.podbean.com ;
https://sites.google.com/site/mrwebbonline/ ;
follow me : @MrWebbPV

To listen to this email as a podcast, go to my Podbean page. To see a video of this information, go to my YouTube Channel

Description: October gets us back into the fall observing season with chances to see each naked-eye planet, a bunch of great lunar encounters, and a wonderful night of sights for the trick-or-treaters.

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 rob_webb@pequeavalley.org

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October gets us back into the fall observing season with chances to see each naked-eye planet, a bunch of great lunar encounters, and a wonderful night of sights for the trick-or-treaters.

Naked-eye PLANETS

  • Around Sunset – Saturn (S), Jupiter (SSW), Maybe Venus & Mercury (WSW)
  • Throughout the night – Jupiter (SàSW), Saturn (SàSW)
  • Morning – Mars (E)


  • Technically just a few degrees to the left of Venus, but it’s much dimmer, so is essentially not visible. Your best chance is probably on October 31st when it’s directly below Venus and sets relatively late.


  • Get the timing and view right, and you might be able to catch Venus in the 30 minutes to an hour after sunset, less than 10˚ above the horizon. Look WSW after the sun sets and find the brightest point of light in that direction.


  • Makes its return! Get out after 6am, but before sunrise, starting mid-month, and look directly East to find the ruddy red point of light that is Mars. The view keeps improving as Mars rises earlier and is higher each morning, until on the 31st it rises at 6am and is 18˚ above the horizon at sunrise.


  • Already high in the sky as dusk turns to night off in the SSW and will probably be the first point of light you can see. It will set in the SW by 10pm at the beginning of the month. Throughout the month it’ll set earlier, by 8:30pm at the end.


  • Yet again, Saturn will trail behind Jupiter in the sky by about 25˚. It starts off in the S about 25˚ above the horizon, and second in brightness to Jupiter. Throughout each night it’ll move toward the South, then set in the SW by midnight at the beginning of the month. Throughout the month it’ll set earlier, by 10pm at the end.


First Quarter Moon – 5th (Visible until midnight)

Full Moon – 13th (Visible all night)

Last Quarter Moon – 21st (Visible from midnight into the morning)

New Moon – 27th (darkest skies)

1st – 6thClose Encounter – Moon, Jupiter, Saturn – Yet again a great lineup with Saturn and Jupiter starting each night in the SSW, almost 30˚ above the horizon and about 25˚ apart from each other. Beginning on the 1st, the three will be evenly spaced, with the Moon being 25˚ to the right of Jupiter, which is 25˚ to the right of Saturn. The next night the Moon travels to 12˚ to the right of Jupiter, and on the 3rd it closes the gap to just 1.5˚, definitely within a camera’s range. Now the Moon spends the night of the 4th directly between Jupiter and Saturn. On the 5th, Saturn is just 2.5˚ up and to the right of the Moon. On the 6th, the Moon bids adieu to the gassy outer planets and finishes the encounter 12˚ to the left of Saturn, creating a great evening lineup of the Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter until Jupiter sets around 10pm.

20th – 22ndOrionid Meteor Shower – A decent meteor shower, producing around 20 meteors per hour. The thick waning crescent Moon rises a bit after midnight, making late evening when it’s not out your better chance to see the most meteors. Either way, go out any of these three days, let your eyes get dark adapted (don’t look at your phone), find a nice spot to lie down away from light pollution, and be patient.

26thClose Encounter – Moon, Mars – In making its comeback, Mars also makes a great view with the very thin crescent Moon just 7˚ above it in the SSE after 6:30am.

29thClose Encounter – Moon, Venus – Might be tough, but if you have a nice clear SW horizon, find bright Venus and a very thin crescent Moon in almost the same spot, the Moon being 4˚ above Venus.

Halloween: 31st – This should be a GREAT night to take the telescope out for those trick-or-treaters. Look SW and the beautiful crescent Moon is just 4˚ to the left of Jupiter, a second awesome target for the scope. Up and to the left is Saturn, a classic outreach object. If you have a great view of the SW horizon, you may even catch bright Venus.


Use a sky map from www.skymaps.com to help you out.

After Dinner:

The Summer Triangle: Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila, Delphinus – Look straight up before 8pm 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. 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. 

Before Bed:

Fall Constellations: Pegasus & Andromeda -Look pretty much straight up before 10pm and you’ll be able to see the Great Square of Pegasus, with Andromeda curving off of one corner. If your skies are decently dark, you might catch the faint fuzz that is the Andromeda Galaxy.

Before Work:

Orion – Look south to find the vertical bow-tie that is Orion the Hunter.

End of podcast:

365 Days of Astronomy
The 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast is produced by Planetary Science Institute. Audio post-production by Richard Drumm. Bandwidth donated by libsyn.com and wizzard media. You may reproduce and distribute this audio for non-commercial purposes. Please consider supporting the podcast with a few dollars (or Euros!). Visit us on the web at 365DaysOfAstronomy.org or email us at info@365DaysOfAstronomy.org. This year we will celebrates the Year of Everyday Astronomers as we embrace Amateur Astronomer contributions and the importance of citizen science. Join us and share your story. Until tomorrow! Goodbye!

About Rob Webb

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