What's in the Sky Tonight?

OCTOBER 2020

October 1 - Full Moon. Early Native American tribes called this the Full Hunters Moon because at this time of year the game was fat and ready to hunt. This Moon has also been known as the Blood Moon and the Harvest Moon.

October 3 – Moon and Jupiter conjunct. These two objects will appear close to one another in the night sky.

October 7 - Draconids Meteor Shower. The Draconids is a minor meteor shower producing only about 10 meteors per hour. This is an unusual shower as the best viewing is in the early evening instead of early morning like most other showers. The Draconids occur annually from October 6-10 and peaks this year on the night of the 7th. The second quarter Moon will obscure the fainter meteors this year. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight.

October 13 - Mars at Opposition. The red planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. It will be brighter than any other time of the year and will be visible all night long. This is the best time to view and photograph Mars. A medium-sized telescope will allow you to see some of the dark details on the planet's orange surface.

October 16 - New Moon.

October 21, 22 - Orionids Meteor Shower. The Orionids is an average shower producing up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is formed by dust grains left behind by comet Halley, which has been known and observed since ancient times. The Orionids occur annually from October 2 to November 7 and peaks this year on the night of October 21 and the morning of October 22. The waxing crescent Moon will set before midnight providing very dark skies for what should be a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight.

October 26 – Moon and Mars conjunct. These two objects will appear close to one another in the night sky.

October 29 – Moon and Venus conjunct. These two objects will appear close to one another in the night sky.

October 31 - Full Moon, Blue Moon. This is called the Blue Moon because it’s the second Full Moon in the same month. This rare celestial event occurs only every few months, which gave rise to the term "once in a blue Moon".

October 31 – Moon and Jupiter conjunct. These two objects will appear close to one another in the night sky.

Here's a list of the best observing nights in 2020.

Venus will shine low in the western sky after sunset, then quickly disappear. Jupiter, not far from Venus in the southwestern sky, moves lower as the month progresses. With a pair of binoculars, you can see the four Galilean moons of Jupiter.

ASTRONOMY BINOCULARS
A mini telescope you can take anywhere

If you love sky gazing, you have to have a pair of astronomy binoculars! Binoculars are a fantastic alternative to telescopes—inexpensive, lightweight, and portable. For city dwellers where there is a lot of light pollution, binoculars are essential if you want to see much of anything.

Binoculars enlarge and brighten the beauty and immensity of the night sky. You can see the detail of the moon's craters, the phases of Venus, the moons and stripes of Jupiter, the awesome jewels that dot the Milky Way, nebulae, star clusters, and comets when they're passing near.

Our favorite astonomy binoculars is the Celestron SkGiyMaster Giant 15x70 Binoculars. These are excellent as well:



ANOTHER GREAT ASTRONOMICAL TOOL:

THE PLANISPHERE
A year-round, real-time sky map

planisphere star locator mapA planisphere is a rotating star chart that allows you to dial in the entire visible sky for any day and time of the year and with great precision. It has been called an analog star computer and was considered magical in ancient times.

Planispheres show the brightest stars, constellations, notable galaxies and nebulae, as well as the path of the Milky Way. The plane of the ecliptic is also shown, which reveals the pathway of the planets as they appear to move across the night sky.

Purchase a planisphere for $7.95