Eyes on the Sky: Oct 14 thru Oct 20

Desert Gypsy's picture - 10/14/13

Published on Oct 13, 2013 A lot going on naked eye this week in the sky! Mars near Regulus, Venus near Antares, and the Earth's shadow dims the Moon for a partial lunar eclipse. Telescopically, look for a dual moon shadow transit on the face of Jupiter during late evening/early morning hours of Friday/Saturday. Plus, where the outer two gas giants may be spotted as well. See what's up in the night sky every week with "Eyes on the Sky" videos, astronomy made easy.

Arcturus at evening. Comet ISON, Mars, Regulus before dawn

Desert Gypsy's picture - 10/13/13


The brightest object in the west after sunset is Venus, and the red star Antares is near Venus. They’ll be closest on October 16. But there’s another reddish star you might notice as well, and this one is likely to be flashing colors. Many people comment at this time of year on the star Arcturus, which you can read more about below. Plus here’s a cool configuration in the predawn sky now: Comet ISON is lining up with the planet Mars and star Regulus in the east. You’ll need a telescope to see the comet, but, even without one, it’s fun to imagine it up there with Mars and Regulus, getting brighter. Hopefully, it’ll become bright enough that we can see the comet after its closest approach to the sun on November 28, 2013.

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What would a solar magnetic flip do to the climate?

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The Daily Caller - 10/10/13, Michael Bastasch

bout every 11 years, the two magnetic poles of the sun reverse as the the star’s inner magnetic dynamo adjusts itself. The flipping of the sun’s magnetic poles is a big event for our solar system as the sun’s heliosphere — the extent of the sun’s magnetic influence — reaches beyond even Pluto.

Comet ISON is doing just fine!

Desert Gypsy's picture 10/9/13, Karl

Comet ISON is doing just fine! It continues to behave like a fairly typical, if somewhat smaller-than-average, Oort Cloud comet. It has given no indication that it has fragmented and while such an event can never be ruled out, we see no evidence or hint that the comet is in any imminent danger of doing so. Any reports to the contrary are just speculation.

How can we be so sure? Because we can see the comet! Opposite is just one more recent example of an extremely high-quality image of ISON taken by Nick Howes, Ernesto Guido and Martino Nicolini as part of a series of daily imaging sequences they have been recording to help study the morphology (shape, size, etc) of comet ISON.

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An Exotic Young Planet Found without a Star

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Institute For Astronomy, 10/10/13

drawing of "lonely  planet"

An international team of astronomers has discovered an exotic young planet that is not orbiting a star. This free-floating planet, dubbed PSO J318.5-22, is just 80 light-years away from Earth and has a mass only six times that of Jupiter. The planet formed a mere 12 million years ago—a newborn in planet lifetimes.

It was identified from its faint and unique heat signature by the Pan-STARRS 1 (PS1) wide-field survey telescope on Haleakala, Maui. Follow-up observations using other telescopes in Hawaii show that it has properties similar to those of gas-giant planets found orbiting around young stars. And yet PSO J318.5-22 is all by itself, without a host star.

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Eyes on the Sky: Oct 7 thru Oct 13 (video)

Desert Gypsy's picture - 10/7/13

Published on Oct 6, 2013 There are a number of fantastic open clusters in Perseus; one is easy (and best!) with binoculars; the other can be seen with binoculars, but is better in a wide field telescopic view. This week, check out the Alpha Persei Cluster and the Double Cluster in the "hero" constellation, and even learn a bit about the mythological background of Perseus too. See what's up in the night sky every week with "Eyes on the Sky" videos, astronomy made easy.

Legendary Draconid meteors best after sunset October 7

Desert Gypsy's picture - 10/7/13, Deborah Byrd

Moon and evening planets on October 7

Before nightfall on October 7 and 8, as you’re preparing to watch for meteors, look southwest to see the waning crescent moon between the planets Venus and Saturn.

The constellation Draco the Dragon will be spitting out meteors, also known as shooting stars. The Draconid shower is predicted to produce the greatest number of meteors on the night of October 7, but the next night might be good, too. Watch for them first thing at nightfall. Fortunately, the thin waxing crescent moon won’t interfere with this year’s Draconid meteor display. In fact, the moon and planets set in the southwestern sky around nightfall, serving as a wonderful prelude to tonight’s Draconid meteor show

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October 2013 guide to the five visible planets

Desert Gypsy's picture - 10/1/13, Bruce McClure, Deborah Byrd


Only one planet is easily visible at nightfall around the world in October 2013: Venus. Venus beams mightily in the west at dusk, as seen from across the Earth. You can’t miss it. It sets roughly two hours after sunset at mid-northern latitudes in early October, and about two-and-one-half hours after the sun by the month’s end. Venus! It’s the beautiful “evening star.”

Saturn can also be seen from around the world – near Venus after sunset – as October begins. It’s much more visible from Earth’s Southern Hemisphere than from northerly latitudes. Why? Because the ecliptic, or path of the planets, places objects in evening twilight straight above the sunset in spring, instead of to one side of the sunset, as in autumn.

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Eyes on the Sky: Sept 30 thru Oct 6

Desert Gypsy's picture - 10/1/13

Published on Sep 29, 2013 The minor planet Juno and the gas giant Uranus are in somewhat dim constellations this week, but both are surprisingly easy to see with the right optical equipment. Learn where and how to observe each one. You can even see Uranus with just binoculars! See what's up in the night sky every week with "Eyes on the Sky" videos, astronomy made easy.

Get ready! Comet ISON to sweep closely past Mars on October 1 (video)

Desert Gypsy's picture - 10/1/13, Bruce McClure

Artist's concept Comet ISON flies by Mars.  Via NASA

On Tuesday (October 1, 2013), this year’s most anticipated comet – Comet ISON – will sweep closely past the Red Planet Mars. It’ll be on its way to a Thanksgiving Day (November 28) encounter with the sun, and hopefully to a good showing in Earth’s night sky. Right now, amateur astronomers with telescopes and photographic equipment are the main ones capturing images of Comet ISON. And they are sure to be trying already to captured Mars and the comet in the same photo in the predawn sky. But NASA and ESA are also readying a flotilla of spacecraft in Mars orbit or on Mars’ surface, which will attempt to record the comet’s passage near Earth’s neighboring planet.

And we do mean near. On October 1, Comet ISON will pass within 0.07 AU from Mars. That’s about six times closer than the comet will ever come to Earth.


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