Night sky for October 2011
Sun: Daytime hours begin to noticeably lengthen as Spring advances. Throughout the month, the Sun's elevation in the sky increases, reaching over 60 degrees.
Moon: First Quarter is today, with Full Moon on the 12th. Last Quarter falls on the 20th and New Moon follows on the 27th.
Mercury moves into the evening sky and by mid- month is setting around an hour after the Sun. It appears quite near to the much brighter Venus.
Venus can be found in the west shortly after sunset. On the 28th it appears very close to the crescent Moon and Mercury.
Mars is in the morning sky and is best observed around 45 minutes before sunrise. Look towards the north-east for a bright, reddish star. The planet crosses the Beehive star cluster at the start of the month. A pair of binoculars will show a large collection of fainter stars around Mars.
Jupiter comes to opposition on the 29th, rising as the Sun sets. It will be very well placed for observation throughout the oncoming months.
Saturn is at conjunction with the Sun on the 14th and remains invisible.
Stars and Constellations:
The western sky is richly populated with the star fields which Sagittarius and Scorpius contain.
The Milky Way runs from south to west. In the north, the large constellation of Pegasus, the Winged Horse, fills much of the sky. Just below it lies Andromeda.
The bright stars to the west of due north are Deneb, Vega and Altair.
Our southern sky has the Cross and its Pointers barely above the horizon.
Canopus is extremely low in the south-east, while Achernar is some distance above it.
The eastern sky appears relatively barren at this time of the year, with only Pisces and Cetus rising in the early evening.
* Prepared for the Taranaki Daily News by Tom Whelan, Cape Egmont Observatory
Taranaki Daily News