This Week's Sky at a Glance
Some night sky sights for October 11 19
Friday, October 11
Saturday, October 12
Sunday, October 13
Monday, October 14
Tuesday, October 15
Wednesday, October 16
Thursday, October 17
Friday, October 18
In Europe and Africa, the penumbral eclipse happens in the middle of the night when the Moon is high: centered on 23:50 Universal Time (GMT).
Saturday, October 19
Want to become a better amateur astronomer? Learn your way around the constellations. They're the key to locating everything fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope.
This is an outdoor nature hobby. For an easy-to-use constellation guide covering the whole evening sky, use the big monthly map in the center of each issue of Sky & Telescope, the essential guide to astronomy. Or download our free Getting Started in Astronomy booklet (which only has bimonthly maps).
Pocket Sky Atlas, which shows stars to magnitude 7.6; the larger and deeper Sky Atlas 2000.0 (stars to magnitude 8.5); and once you know your way around, the even larger Uranometria 2000.0 (stars to magnitude 9.75). And read how to use sky charts with a telescope.
You'll also want a good deep-sky guidebook, such as Sue French's Deep-Sky Wonders collection (which includes its own charts), Sky Atlas 2000.0 Companion by Strong and Sinnott, the bigger Night Sky Observer's Guide by Kepple and Sanner, or the beloved if dated Burnham's Celestial Handbook.
Can a computerized telescope replace charts? Not for beginners, I don't think, and not on mounts and tripods that are less than top-quality mechanically (able to point with better than 0.2° repeatability, which means heavy and expensive). As Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer say in their invaluable 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."
This Week's Planet Roundup
Mercury (magnitude 0.0) remains deep in the glow of sunset. About 30 minutes after sunset, use binoculars to look for it about 22° to the lower right of Venus. Saturn (magnitude +0.7) glows 7° to Mercury's right or upper right.
Mars (magnitude 1.6) rises around 3 a.m. close to Regulus (magnitude 1.4) in Leo. By dawn they're high in the east. They pass 1° apart on the morning of October 15th.
In a telescope, Mars is still just a tiny blob 4.6 arcseconds wide.
Comet ISON is also near Mars, but it's still a faint telescopic target at 11th or 10th magnitude. Use the finder chart for it (with respect to Mars and Regulus, among faint stars) in the November Sky & Telescope, page 50.
Jupiter (magnitude –2.2, in Gemini) rises in the east-northeast around 11 or midnight and blazes high in the south by dawn. About 8° left of Jupiter after it rises are Castor and Pollux.
All descriptions that relate to your horizon including the words up, down, right, and left are written for the world's mid-northern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude (mainly Moon positions) are for North America. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) equals Universal Time (also known as UT, UTC, or GMT) minus 4 hours.
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