Sun rises at 6:05am
Sun sets at 5:50pm
Moon phase: Waning Crescent
Moon sets at 2:12pm, Saturday
Moon rises at 2:30am, Sunday
What sign are you? Look up after nightfall on these October evenings. The zodiac signs are on display at the moment.
Did you know the constellations of the zodiac provide the backdrop for the pathway of the sun across our sky each year, and of the moon for every month. Since the sun’s path – called the ecliptic – lies along these constellations, you can look for them along the approximate path that the sun follows during the day – from east to west across the sky. Once you recognize one constellation, you can star-hop to a nearby one; and soon you will know many impressive patterns in the night sky.
Check out the positions of these zodiacal constellations Aquarius and Pisces relative to the Great Square of Pegasus. The diagrams will guide you and here are some steps to improve your skills at star-hopping.
You should be aware of the moon’s place in the sky; it passes in front of each constellation of the zodiac for a few days each month. For instance, in the morning sky during the next several days, the waning crescent moon will be passing in front of the constellation Leo.
Once you start to learn the constellations, each one will lead you to the next. For example, you can use the Summer Triangle, which is high in the south to overhead at nightfall on October evenings, to find constellations of the zodiac. The ecliptic arches below the Summer Triangle. An imaginary line drawn from the bright star Vega through the star Altair points in the general direction of Sagittarius, and a line drawn from Deneb through Altair escorts you to Capricorn.
Have a little patience! Learning the sky is a lifelong occupation, but one that will give you endless pleasure.
Early mornings next week: On the mornings of October 16 and 17, rise before the sun to view the aging crescent moon and the dazzling planet Venus in the eastern sky. Mars will be there, too, but much fainter than either Venus or the moon. Some sharp-sighted sky gazers might even see the moon and Venus after sunrise.
If you have a really good, unobstructed eastern horizon, you might also catch the moon on October 18. The moon will be reborn on October 19.
Thank you for keeping up with the Night Sky articles. If you are out later on in the week, each star rises about four minutes earlier each day than written here, and the moon rises 50 minutes later. Night Sky is researched and compiled by Lisa Davis-Burnett. Earthsky.org is a key resource for information and images. Questions or comments? Email [email protected]