This Week’s Sky at a Glance, October 29 – November 6

Nova Cassiopeiae 2021 was nonetheless hovering round magnitude 7.6 as of October twenty ninth, after almost a dozen rises and dips because it first exploded from magazine 15 to 7.7 final March. Charts and comparison stars.


■ Jupiter and Saturn proceed to steepen their tilt within the southern night sky this week, as proven beneath. Meanwhile, they’re steadily creeping towards Venus which shines at dusk far to their decrease proper.

The later you look, the steeper the Jupiter-Saturn line tilts. And, by late night you will discover the binocular double stars Alpha and Beta Capricorni virtually on to Saturn’s proper, quite than higher proper of it as in early night.

■ Spot brilliant Capella glowing low within the northeast these evenings. Then search for the Pleiades cluster off to Capella’s proper, by about three fists at arm’s size. These harbingers of the chilly months rise larger as night grows late and look ahead to Aldebaran developing beneath the Pleiades.

Upper proper of Capella, and higher left of the Pleiades, the stars of Perseus lie astride the Milky Way.

■ A small telescope is all you could watch Jupiter’s large moon Ganymede slowly reappear from eclipse out of Jupiter’s shadow round 8:31 p.m. EDT. It will become visible a little east of the planet.

Then Callisto emerges from eclipse, a little farther from Jupiter and much more steadily, 1¼ hours later: at about 9:47 p.m. EDT. (Convert the instances to your individual time zone.)


■ Spot brilliant Altair excessive within the southwest quickly after darkish. Brighter Vega is much to its proper.

Above Altair lurk two distinctive little constellations: Delphinus the Dolphin, hardly greater than a fist at arm’s size to Altair’s higher left, and smaller, fainter Sagitta the Arrow, barely much less far to Altair’s higher proper. Light air pollution too brilliant? Use binoculars!


■ Halloween night is moonless this year. But as twilight turns to nighttime, brilliant Jupiter and lesser Saturn look down on trick-or-treaters from the south, and Venus blazes far to their decrease proper within the southwest.

The brightest star excessive within the night is Vega, watching from very excessive within the west. And look two fists at arm’s size decrease left of Jupiter for Fomalhaut, the Autumn Star. Their eyes are upon you, and so they say nothing.


■ Draw a line from Altair, the brightest star very excessive within the southwest after darkish, to the best to Vega, very excessive within the west and even brighter. Continue the road onward by half that far, and also you hit the Lozenge: the pointy-nosed head of Draco, the Dragon. Its brightest star is orange Eltanin, the tip of the Dragon’s nostril, all the time pointing towards Vega.

■ Just to Altair’s higher proper, by a finger-width at arm’s size, is orange Tarazed (Gamma Aquilae), wanting like Altair’s little sidekick however really a a lot larger and brighter star far within the background. Altair is 17 light-years away. Tarazed is about 360 light-years away, and it places out 100 instances as a lot mild!

As daybreak begins to brighten late this week, the waning crescent Moon walks down by way of Virgo to pose low and skinny over Mercury and Spica.


■ Around 10 p.m., relying on the place you reside, zero-magnitude Capella rises precisely as excessive within the northeast as zero-magnitude Vega has sunk within the west-northwest. How precisely are you able to time this occasion? Sextant not required. . . however it will assist.

■ This week Jupiter crosses the meridian (is highest due south) round 7 or 8 p.m. daylight-saving time, relying how far east or west you reside in your time zone. And when Jupiter crosses the meridian now, so does the nostril star of upside-down Pegasus: Enif, aka Epsilon Pegasi. “Enif” is from the Arabic for nostril, a designation adopted from the Greeks’ tackle Pegasus.

At magnitude 2.4, Enif is straightforward to identify 25° above Jupiter. That’s about 2½ fists at arm’s size. Sharp eyes or binoculars reveal that it is yellow-orange; it is a Ok3 supergiant.

Enif is your start line for locating the fantastic fall globular cluster M15, Queen Anne’s Lace per Josh Urban, positioned 5° to the star’s northwest (higher proper these evenings). At sixth magnitude M15 is inside binocular vary as a tiny glowball, and a 6-inch telescope could start to resolve a few of its sugarpile starspecks. Use the finder chart with Matt Wedel’s Binocular Highlight column within the October Sky & Telescope, web page 43.

■ In early daybreak Wednesday morning, have a strive for the skinny Moon, Mercury, and Spica forming a triangle very low within the east-southeast, as proven above. Bring binoculars in case you do not catch simply the best, transient time window between the triangle being too low and the sky changing into too brilliant for Spica, the faintest of the three.


■ Got a actually large scope and a dark-sky location? With the Moon gone from the night sky, convey your deep-sky atlas and take a look at “The Odd World of Peculiar Galaxies” within the October Sky & Telescope beginning on web page 57, with photographs and visible drawings. The ten featured galaxies are magnitudes 12 to 14.

■ Low in brilliant daybreak Thursday morning, the skinny waning Moon hangs in a triangle with Mercury and faint Spica beneath it, as proven above. Look low within the east-southeast about 40 or half-hour earlier than dawn, and produce binoculars.

The triangle is 4° or 5° on a facet. The Moon is skinny certainly; it is solely 1½ days from new as daybreak breaks within the Americas.


■ After darkish this week Capella shines effectively up within the northeast, and the Pleiades are effectively up within the east-northeast three fists to Capella’s proper. As night grows later, you will discover orange Aldebaran climbing up beneath the Pleiades. By about 10 p.m. (relying in your location), Orion is clearing the japanese horizon beneath Aldebaran.

■ Uranus is at opposition.


The Summer Triangle Effect. Here it’s early November, however Deneb nonetheless shines proper close to the zenith because the stars come out. And brighter Vega continues to be not removed from the zenith, towards the west. The third star of the “Summer” Triangle, Altair, stays very excessive within the southwest (excessive higher proper of Jupiter and Saturn). They appear to have stayed there for a couple months! Why have they stalled out?

What you are seeing is the results of sundown and darkness arriving earlier and earlier throughout autumn. Which means if you happen to exit and starwatch quickly after darkish, you are doing it earlier and earlier by the clock. This counteracts the seasonal westward turning of the constellations.

Of course this “Summer Triangle effect” applies to all the celestial sphere, not simply the Summer Triangle. But the obvious stalling of that brilliant landmark impressed Sky & Telescope to present the impact that title many years in the past, and it has caught.

Of course, as all the time in celestial mechanics, a deficit someplace will get made up elsewhere. The reverse impact makes the seasonal advance of the constellations appear to speed up in early spring. The spring-sky landmarks of Virgo and Corvus appear to sprint away westward from week to week virtually earlier than you realize it, on account of darkness falling later and later. Let’s name this the “Corvus effect.”

■ New Moon (actual at 5:15 p .m. Eastern Daylight Time).

Jupiter and Saturn have handed the stationary factors of their retrograde loops and have begun transferring eastward (to the left) once more with respect to the background stars. This is most noticeable as Jupiter strikes previous Delta Capricorni, the constellation’s left nook, proven right here. Keep watch; the planets’ eastward movement is rushing up.


■ I do not know why I all the time get confused looking for the open cluster NGC 7789 in Cassiopeia, a.ok.a. Caroline’s Rose, with a finderscope or binoculars. I imply it is proper there a easy, brief star-hop from the intense finish of the Cassiopeia W. Maybe it is as a result of it is a very dim, easy glow regardless of being respectably massive; the cluster is wealthy with stars however they’re all very faint. Use the great clear finder chart with Matt Wedel’s Binocular Highlight column within the November Sky & Telescope, web page 43.

■ Daylight-saving time ends at 2 a.m. tonight for many of North America. Clocks fall again an hour and a few of them do all of it by themselves, this being the twenty first century.


This Week’s Planet Roundup

Mercury, in Virgo, continues to be in its finest morning apparition of the year. Look for it low above the east-southeast horizon in early daybreak, about 50 to 40 minutes earlier than your dawn time. It stays brilliant at magnitude –0.8 all week. Passing by way of its neighborhood is fainter Spica, magnitude +1.0.

On the morning of November third the skinny Moon stands shut above them, as proven two illustrations above.

Venus, a good magnitude –4.6, shines in southwest throughout and after twilight, proper or decrease proper of the vastly fainter Sagittarius Teapot. Venus now stays up for almost an hour after darkish. It will proceed to get a little larger and brighter into early December.

Mars stays out of sight deep within the glow of dawn.

Jupiter and Saturn proceed to shine within the south throughout night, 15° aside in Capricornus. Jupiter is the intense one at magnitude –2.5. Saturn, to its proper or decrease proper, is magazine +0.6.

In twilight they’re simply starting to tilt. As night advances they tilt extra steeply as they transfer westward. Saturn units round 11 or midnight daylight-saving time, Jupiter about an hour later.

Look 23° (two fists at arm’s size) decrease left of Jupiter for Fomalhaut, magnitude +1.2.

Jupiter on October sixth, imaged by S&T‘s Sean Walker with a 12-inch reflector in New Hampshire. North is up. “We were treated to some excellent seeing conditions.” he writes. “I spent hours shooting and observing the planet, watching the GRS transit, as well as the dark barges in the NEB, and the series of white ovals south of the SEB. It was a magical night of observing.”

By the way, fantastically exact velocity measurements of the Juno spacecraft orbiting Jupiter have simply proven (through its gravitational perturbations) that the Great Red Spot extends about 300 km beneath Jupiter’s seen cloudtops. This is deeper than was anticipated, however nonetheless very shallow in comparison with the spot’s width of 16,000 km; the good storm is about 50 instances wider than deep, a little thinner than two DVDs stacked.

Still, the underside is beneath the depth when daylight penetrates or water condensation happens. See The Roots of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot Run Deep. “For context, Jupiter’s stripes, the brown-red belts and whitish zones, extend much deeper, down to about 3,000 km, or about 4% of the way to the core.”

Uranus (magnitude 5.7, in southern Aries) is effectively up within the east by 9 p.m. It’s at opposition this week, precisely so on November 4th. See Bob King’s Uranus Queues Up for Opposition.

Neptune (magnitude 7.9, at the Aquarius-Pisces border) is excessive within the southeast by dusk. It went by way of opposition virtually two months in the past, however at Neptune’s distance that hardly issues.

All descriptions that relate to your horizon — together with the phrases up, down, proper, and left — are written for the world’s mid-northern latitudes. Descriptions that additionally rely upon longitude (primarily Moon positions) are for North America.

Eastern Daylight Time, EDT, is Universal Time minus 4 hours. Universal Time is also called UT, UTC, GMT, or Z time. To turn out to be extra professional about time methods than 99% of the folks you will ever meet, see our compact article Time and the Amateur Astronomer.

Want to turn out to be a higher astronomer? Learn your way across the constellations. They’re the important thing to finding the whole lot fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope.

This is an outside nature passion. For an easy-to-use constellation information protecting the entire night sky, use the large month-to-month map within the heart of every situation of Sky & Telescope, the journal of the American Astronomical Society.

Once you get a telescope, to place it to good use you will want a detailed, large-scale sky atlas (set of charts). The primary normal is the Pocket Sky Atlas (in both the original or Jumbo Edition), which reveals stars to magnitude 7.6.

Pocket Sky Atlas cover, Jumbo edition
The (*29*) plots 30,796 stars to magnitude 7.6, and tons of of telescopic galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae amongst them. Shown right here is the Jumbo Edition, which is in laborious covers and enlarged for simpler studying open air by red flashlight. Sample charts. More about the current editions.

Next up is the bigger and deeper Sky Atlas 2000.0, plotting stars to magnitude 8.5; almost thrice as many. The subsequent up, as soon as you realize your way round, are the even bigger Interstellarum atlas (stars to magnitude 9.5) or Uranometria 2000.0 (stars to magnitude 9.75). And you’ll want to learn How to Use a Star Chart with a Telescope.

You’ll additionally need a good deep-sky guidebook, resembling the large Night Sky Observer’s Guide by Kepple and Sanner.

Can a computerized telescope substitute charts? Not for newcomers, I do not assume, and never on mounts and tripods which are lower than top-quality mechanically, that means heavy and costly. And as Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer say of their Backyard Astronomer’s Guide, “A full appreciation of the universe cannot come without developing the skills to find things in the sky and understanding how the sky works. This knowledge comes only by spending time under the stars with star maps in hand.”

Audio sky tour. Out underneath the night sky along with your
earbuds in place, take heed to Kelly Beatty’s month-to-month
podcast tour of the heavens above. It’s free.

“The dangers of not thinking clearly are much greater now than ever before. It’s not that there’s something new in our way of thinking, it’s that credulous and confused thinking can be much more lethal in ways it was never before.”
            — Carl Sagan, 1996

“Facts are stubborn things.”
            — John Adams, 1770

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