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This Week's Sky at a Glance
6 years ago

Some night sky sights for October 26 – November 3
by Alan M. MacRobert
  • The Ghost of Summer Suns. Halloween is approaching, and this means that Arcturus, the star sparkling low in the west-northwest in twilight, is taking on its role as "the Ghost of Summer Suns." What does this mean? For several days centered on October 29th every year, Arcturus occupies a special place above your local landscape. It closely marks the spot in your sky where the Sun stood at the same time by the clock during warm June and July — in broad daylight, of course. So, in the last days of October each year, you can think of Arcturus as the chilly Halloween ghost of the departed summer Sun.

  • The eclipsing variable star Algol in Perseus should be at minimum light, magnitude 3.4 instead of its usual 2.1, for a couple hours centered on 1:14 a.m. Saturday morning EDT; 10:14 p.m. Friday evening PDT.

  • Saturday, October 27

  • The bright Moon shines below the Great Square of Pegasus's bottom corner early this evening. From the Square's left corner extends a big, slightly downward line of three stars (including the corner). These form the backbone and leg of Andromeda.

  • Sunday, October 28

  • Plucked from obscurity to make astronomical history, the star 51 Pegasi will be known for all ages as the first Sun-like star discovered to host a planet beyond our solar system (in 1995). At 5th magnitude it's an easy binocular target next to the Great Square of Pegasus, even in moonlight. Can you spot it, and show it to others? Use the chart with Gary Seronik's Binocular Highlight column in the November Sky & Telescope, page 45.

    Full Moon
  • Gary Seronik
    Monday, October 29

  • Full Moon (exact at 3:49 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time). Look a fist-width above the Moon for the brightest stars of Aries, lined up nearly horizontally.

  • Algol should be at minimum light for a couple hours centered on 10:03 p.m. EDT. Algol takes several additional hours to fade and to rebrighten.

  • Jupiter's Great Red Spot (pale orange-tan) crosses Jupiter's central meridian around 11:32 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

6 years ago

Tuesday, October 30

  • The "Summer Star" Vega is still the brightest star in the west during fall evenings. Higher above it is Deneb. Farther off to Vega's left or lower left is Altair, the third star of the Summer Triangle.
  • Wednesday, October 31

  • The Halloween Moon, waning gibbous, rises around the end of twilight. The Pleiades are above it. Once it rises higher, Aldebaran sparkles is below it and bright Jupiter shines to its lower left, as shown here.
  • Just after dark, the faint, slow-moving asteroid 35 Leukothea should occult a 10.6-magnitude star in Aquarius fairly high in the south for up to 39 seconds, for observers along a track from Florida through Michigan. Charts and details.
  • Thursday, November 1

  • The bright "star" above the Moon this evening is Jupiter. Although they look close together, Jupiter is 1,500 times farther away. Aldebaran, to their right, is 930,000 times more distant than Jupiter!
  • Friday, November 2

  • Once the waning gibbous Moon rises high late this evening, look lower right of it for wintry Orion making his sparkly appearance.
  • Saturday, November 3

  • Fomalhaut, the "Autumn Star," culminates (reaches its highest point due south) around 9 p.m. daylight saving time. The western side of the Great Square of Pegasus, high above, points almost down to it. Can you see any of the rest of Fomalhaut's dim host constellation Piscis Austrinus, the Southern Fish?
  • Standard Time returns (for most of North America) at 2 a.m. tonight. Clocks "fall back" an hour.

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