This Week’s Sky at a Glance, October 27 – November 3
~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. Astronomers have known it is surrounded by discs of debris for many years and an exoplanet has been imaged near the inner edge of a disc. The eastern side of Pegasus points down to Diphda, the brightest star in Cetus the Whale. This star is also called Deneb Kaitos, the tail of 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 7:52 am and sunset will occur at 6:12 pm, giving 10 hours, 20 minutes of daylight (7:56 am and 6:19 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 8:02 am and set at 6:02 pm, giving 10 hours of daylight (8:06 am and 6:08 pm in Saint John).
The Moon is at third quarter on Wednesday, rising much too late to treat the Trick or Treaters and their parents. Mercury passes within a binocular field below Jupiter this weekend but you will need a clear horizon toward the southwest to see them, with Mercury setting by 7 pm. Saturn is still well placed for early evening observing, while Mars has recovered from its global dust storm and is showing a distinct gibbous phase in a telescope.
The Saint John Astronomy Club meets in the Rockwood Park Interpretative Center on November 3 at 7 pm. All are welcome.
Questions? Contact Curt Nason.