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Star Gazing - October 8 - 13, 2018
Monday, October 8
• New Moon (exact at 11:47 p.m. EDT).
• The starry W of Cassiopeia stands high in the northeast after dark. The right-hand side of the W (the brightest side) is
tilted steeply up.
Look along the second segment of the W counting down from the top. Notice the dim naked-eye stars along that
segment (not counting its two ends). The brightest of these, on the right, is Eta Cassiopeiae, magnitude 3.4, a Sun-like
star just 19 light-years away with an orange-dwarf companion — a lovely binary in a telescope.
The "one" on the left, fainter, is a naked-eye pair when seen in a dark sky: Upsilon1 and Upsilon2 Cassiopeiae, 0.3°
apart. They're orange giants unrelated to each other, 200 and 400 light-years distant from us. Upsilon1, slightly the
fainter, is the farther one.
Tuesday, October 9
• The Great Square of Pegasus balances on its corner high in the east at nightfall this week. For your date and location,
when it is exactly balanced? That is, when is the Square's top corner exactly above its bottom corner? It'll be sometime
soon after the end of twilight, depending on both your latitude and longitude. Try lining up the two stars with the
vertical edge of a building.
Wednesday, October 10
• Cygnus floats high overhead these evenings. Its brightest stars form the big Northern Cross. When you face southwest
and crane your head to the zenith, the cross appears oriented upright. It's about two fists at arm's length tall, with
Deneb forming its top.
The bottom star of the cross is Albireo, not very bright. It's a fine double star for 10x binoculars, but how well you can
resolve it in binoculars depends on their optical quality and how steady you can brace them.
From Albireo, you can star-hop to the planetary nebula M27 and to lesser-known Stock 1, a very large but sparse star
cluster, using Matt Wedel's Binocular Highlight column and chart in the October Sky & Telescope, page 43.
Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Oct. 11-14, 2018
The waxing crescent Moon returns to evening twilight sky, posing with Jupiter and then Saturn. The visibility of fainter
objects in bright twilight is exaggerated here.
Thursday, October 11
• As twilight fades, a thin crescent Moon hangs over Jupiter low in the southwest, as shown at right.
Friday, October 12
• Looking lower left of the crescent Moon in twilight, can you spot orange Antares, as shown here? For North
Americans it's about 8° from the Moon, a little less than a fist at arm's length.
Off to the right of Antares shines brighter Jupiter.
Saturday, October 13
• The Moon hangs in the southwest after sunset. How early in the fading light can you spot Saturn, about 14° to the
Next, look for fainter, more difficult Antares about the same distance to the Moon's lower right.
Starry, Starry Night . . .
"I know nothing of any certainty, but the sight of the stars
makes me dream." -Vincent Van Gogh