Around 7 p.m., aim binoculars to the southwest for final views of celestial objects shimmering from the center of our Milky Way Galaxy in Sagittarius. Dim rusty Mars lies about 20 degrees above the southwestern horizon, to the right of the tilted Sagittarian Teapot pouring onto the stinger tail of huge Scorpius. Mars sets about mid-evening. Dim Comet Siding-Spring at 8th magnitude, cruises northward 1 degree above Mars. visible in telescopes. Silver Saturn lingers near the southwestern horizon, in Libra and sets before 8p.m.
Capricornus, the Sea Goat, plods into the southwest. Grus, the Crane, stretches its starry neck above the southern horizon. Outer planets blue Neptune sails high across the south, above the star Fomalhaut in Aquarius, followed by blue-green Uranus in the southeast in Pisces, the Fish. Cetus, the Whale, swims along the southeastern horizon. Aries, Ram, chases Pegasus, the Winged Horse, to the Zenith. Pegasus is marked by a Great Square of four stars high in the east. A string of stars extend from the bottom left star in the Square into the northeast where our nearest galaxy Andromeda is located.
The Royal Family reigns in the north: King Cepheus, Queen Cassiopeia, daughter Andromeda and Perseus, Hero. The M shaped constellation is the Queen, left of Andromeda. Hercules leads Vega, in Lyra the Harp, and the vast Summer Triangle into the northwest. Cygnus, Swan soars within the Triangle and becomes the Northern Cross. The Summer Milky Way (River of Stars) arches across the west from the Teapot to the Triangle. Bright Arcturus, the Herdsman, sparkles low in the west. The Big Dipper lies low in the northwest. Mid-evening the delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades cluster) leads Taurus, the Bull, above the eastern horizon. Ruddy Aldebaran (Bull’s red eye) winks from the V-shaped Hyades cluster (Bull’s face). Capella guides Auriga, the Charioteer, higher in the northeast.
The annual Orionid meteor shower reaches max activity in the predawn. On its yearly trip around the sun, the Earth passes through comet tails hanging in space. Tiny specks of comet debris race into Earth’s atmosphere at supersonic speed and ignite into a colorful celestial show. Radiating from Orion, the Hunter, rising in the east after midnight, the Orionids may produce 15-20 per hour. Some Orionid meteors may be visible before and after Oct. 21. Major meteors showers will occur mid-November and mid-December.
At dawn, Mercury emerges above the eastern horizon. Bright Jupiter escorts Leo, Lion higher in the east. The Big Dipper rises in the northeast. The Beehive cluster follows the Gemini Twins overhead. Capella steers the Charioteer across the north. The Royal Family slides toward the northwest. Procyon, Little Dog, follows Orion across the southwest in pursuit of the Bull in the west. Brilliant blue Sirius sparkles in Orion’s Big Dog in the south. Canopus radiates rainbow colors from the ancient ship Argo low in the south.
New Moon occurs 5:57 p.m.
At dusk a sliver of a young moon floats briefly near the southwestern horizon between Saturn (right) and Scorpius (left).
Compiled by Barb Yager, Southern Cross Astronomical Society, 305-661-1375, scas.org