Sky at a Glance October 6 – 13

Photo showing the night Autumn sky and constellations.

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, October 6 – 13 ~by Curt Nason

This is a good time of year to double your sky observing time. For the next few weeks, before we return to Standard Time, the sky is dark and the stars are blazing when most people are up to start their day. And it is not bitterly cold or snowbound. Orion and his dogs are prominent to the south, with Taurus, Auriga and Gemini arching over them.

In early evening you can see the 4th, 5th and 6th brightest stars. Look for yellow Arcturus sinking to the west, blue-white Vega overhead and Capella in Auriga rising in the northeast. Later, notice the positions of the circumpolar Big Dipper, Little Dipper and Cassiopeia. The next morning go outside and see how they have changed. Sometimes it is nice to have a little assurance that the world keeps right on turning.

This Week in the Solar System

Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 7:24 am and sunset will occur at 6:49 pm, giving 11 hours, 25 minutes of daylight (7:28 am and 6:55 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 7:33 am and set at 6:36 pm, giving 11 hours, 3 minutes of daylight (7:37 am and 6:42 pm in Saint John).

The Moon is new soon after midnight on Tuesday morning, appearing as a waxing crescent low in the west later in the week. The shallow angle of the ecliptic on early autumn evenings makes it very difficult to see Venus and Mercury this week; Mercury is pulling away from the Sun and Venus is heading toward it. Jupiter sets less than 90 minutes after sunset so catch it in twilight when you can. Saturn and Mars take centre stage for evening observers this week. Comet dust provides possible entertainment for early risers. The Draconid meteor shower peaks on Monday but, despite the recent close passage of its parent comet 21P/ Giacobini-Zinner, only a few shooting stars per hour are expected. With the steep angle of the ecliptic on Moonless autumn mornings, skywatchers in rural areas might notice the zodiacal light later this week and all of next week.

The Saint John Astronomy Club meets in the Rockwood Park Interpretation Center on Saturday, October 6 at 7 pm, and the William Brydone Jack Astronomy Club meets at the UNB Fredericton Forestry / Earth Sciences building at 7 pm on Tuesday. All are welcome.

Questions? Contact Curt Nason.

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