This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2022 October 22 – 29
~by Curt Nason
The western side of the Square of Pegasus points southward to the solitary bright star Fomalhaut in the mouth of Piscis Austrinus the Southern Fish. Fomalhaut is the 18th brightest star in our night sky, and astronomers have known it is surrounded by discs of debris for many years. In 2008 an exoplanet was imaged near the inner edge of a disc but more recent images suggest it could be an expanding disc of dust caused by a collision. The eastern side of Pegasus points down to Diphda, the brightest star in the tail of Cetus the Whale. A circlet of stars well to the east forms the head of the whale.
Between Piscis Austrinus and Cetus is the dim constellation Sculptor, which is a shortened version of its original name, Apparatus Sculptoris (the sculptor’s studio), given by Louis de Lacaille in the 18th century. By 11 pm it is low in the south but it does have a prominent marker. Use binoculars to seek out a long triangle of dim stars stretching eastward from Fomalhaut, but don’t be discouraged if your attempt to locate Sculptor is a bust.
This Week in the Solar System
Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 7:45 am and sunset will occur at 6:20 pm, giving 10 hours, 35 minutes of daylight (7:49 am and 6:27 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 7:55 am and set at 6:09 pm, giving 10 hours, 14 minutes of daylight (7:59 am and 6:16 pm in Saint John).
The Moon is new on Tuesday, beginning a stretch of moonless mornings that could make the zodiacal light visible in the east from rural areas an hour before sunrise. Mercury is below the slim crescent Moon Monday morning, rising an hour before sunrise. Venus is at superior conjunction behind the Sun this Saturday, out of sight until it emerges from evening twilight in December. Saturn is stationary on Sunday, after which it resumes eastward motion relative to the stars. As twilight fades on Wednesday evening telescope users might see the shadows of two Jovian moons on Jupiter’s clouds; with the shadow of Europa exiting at 7:25, followed by Ganymede’s at 8:07. Mars is brightening rapidly as Earth approaches, rivalling the brightest star Sirius by next weekend. Early risers this Saturday might notice a few meteors streaking from Orion’s upraised club as the Orionid shower is just past its peak.
On Sunday evening at 8 pm, tune in to the Sunday Night Astronomy Show via the Facebook page or YouTube channel of Astronomy by the Bay.
Questions? Contact Curt Nason.