This Week’s Sky at a Glance, October 20 – 27 ~by Curt Nason
With the Square of Pegasus appearing higher in the east after twilight, look under it (or outside the first base line of the diamond) for a circle of fainter stars. This asterism is the Circlet of Pisces and it forms the head of one of the two fish that make up this zodiac constellation. Below left of the circlet is the Vernal Equinox, the point where the Sun crosses the equator to mark the beginning of our spring season. It is often called the First Point of Aries despite having moved well to the west of the zodiacal ram.
The fishes represent Aphrodite and her son Eros, who tied their ankles together with a cord before changing into fish and leaping into the sea to escape the fearsome Typhon. The star where the fishes’ tails meet is called Alrescha, which means “the cord.”
On Tuesday the near full Moon is passing through Pisces. In mid-evening it will be a fist-width to the right of the planet Uranus, which reaches opposition that day. With a planetarium app or a star map like one available on the Sky & Telescope website you can track down Uranus with binoculars. Although the planet is officially within the constellation Aries it will spend next month skimming the border of Pisces. Through a telescope Uranus appears as a tiny, pale green ball.
This Week in the Solar System
Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 7:43 am and sunset will occur at 6:24 pm, giving 10 hours, 41 minutes of daylight (7:46 am and 6:30 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 7:52 am and set at 6:12 pm, giving 10 hours, 20 minutes of daylight (7:56 am and 6:19 pm in Saint John).
The Moon is full on Wednesday, the traditional Hunter’s Moon and the Mi’kmaw Animal Fattening Moon. Venus is at inferior conjunction on Friday and will visible in the morning sky late next month. Mercury sets around 7 pm all week and it will be a few degrees below Jupiter on October 27. Saturn and Mars are still well placed for evening observing. The Orionid meteor shower peaks on Sunday afternoon so early risers on Sunday and Monday have a chance at seeing a few extra shooting stars.
October 20 is International Observe the Moon Night. RASC NB is giving Moon-related talks from 11 am to 4:30 pm at Moncton High School, followed by evening observing (7:30 pm) at the high school observatory. As well, UNB Fredericton will be hosting public observing at the Physics building from 8:00 to 9:30 pm.
Questions? Contact Curt Nason.