can expect both the Orionids and the Taurids to put on meteor shows
Orionids meteor shower will be active from the Oct. 4 through the end
of the month -- and into November. It peaks on the night of Oct. 21.
Expect 20 to 25 meteorites per hour. The shooting stars can appear
in any part of the skies, but they will seem to originate from the
constellation Orion. Look for the Orionids between midnight and dawn.
Southern Taurids meteor shower will peak on Oct. 9. This is a minor
shower, but it has a good record of producing fireballs. The
Southern Taurids are visible every night in October, with peak
viewing around 2 a.m.
Northern Taurids begin on Oct. 19 and are active until December.
Like the Southern Taurids, this is a minor shower that has a
reputation for producing fireballs. Peak viewing is around midnight.
the Orionids, the shooting stars and fireballs from the Taurids can
appear anywhere in the night skies, but they will appear to emanate
from the constellation Taurus. If you’re a stickler for finding the
source of the Taurids, try locating the Pleiades. It’s just about
in the center of the constellation.
for the Pleiades (M45) to rise in the east at about 9 p.m. on Oct. 1.
It’s a tight cluster of stars you can use to check your vision.
There are six prominent stars that are readily visible with the naked
eye. Under very dark good conditions, you might be able to spot more.
Johann Kepler reported 14 in the 17th
century. The last time I checked, I could only see five stars --
getting old is tough.
onto the planet viewing for October.
will start with Venus visible near the west-southwest horizon. You
should be able to see it just after sundown. Mars will show up
almost directly above the southern horizon, and Saturn will be in
between Mars and Venus. For those of you with a telescope, Neptune
will start the month near the eastern horizon.
will be visible near the eastern horizon just before dawn on Oct. 1.
Jupiter will start showing up near the eastern horizon in early
October. On the morning of Oct. 11, the two planets will appear to
be almost on top of each other. This is their conjunction.
should be a great month for locating deep-space objects with
binoculars. The Andromeda Galaxy is still a good starting point. But
you might want to try to find the three objects I highlighted during
September in next part of this article. M51 begins the month in the
northwest, just below Alkaid, the first star in the handle of the Big
Dipper. M27 will be almost directly overhead to start the month.
You can also turn your binoculars towards the Pleiades. There’s
quite a bit of nebulosity surrounding the stars in that group and you
might be able to see some of it.
had two new moons. The first was on Sept. 1, and the second on Sept.
30. That’s called a Black Moon! A new moon is the best time of
month to look at deep space objects and September didn’t disappoint
me. The first new moon offered some very good nights for viewing the
stars. This is the Sculptor Galaxy, NGC 253.
Sculptor Galaxy is also called the Silver Coin Galaxy and the Dusty
Island Universe. NGC 253 is about 11 million light years away from
us and roughly the same size as the Milky Way.
253 is the third brightest galaxy in the night skies. Only the
Andromeda Galaxy (M31) and Sombrero Galaxy (M104) are brighter. You
can’t see it with your naked eye but you can see it through a good
pair of binoculars or a small telescope.
the Dumbbell Nebula is one of my favorite nebulae! I’ve shown
images of it before, but I think this is probably the best one I’ve
ever taken. It’s about 1300 light years away and yes, like the
Sculptor galaxy, you can see it through binoculars.
added this image of M51 for three reasons. First, it’s a fairly
good image, particularly since it was the very first deep space
object I photographed with my ZWO camera. Second, you can spot M51
with binoculars, like M27 and NGC 253. And, finally, I shot all three
of these images on the same night! I usually consider it a pretty
good night if I get one decent shot, so getting these three in what
seemed like rapid sequence was pretty special.
is about 23 million light years away! The smaller galaxy on the
right is NGC 5195. It’s often called M51B. An,d yes, there is
some sort of interaction going on between the two.
Quarter: October 9
moon: October 16
Quarter: October 27
moon: October 30
(Gerry Lebing is a retired
computer scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Washington,
D.C. He has visited Hatteras Island since the mid-1970s. He and his
wife, Karen, have owned property here for several years and moved to
their home in Waves full-time in 2013. Astronomy is a
subject that Gerry says he has always been interested in and one that
he pursues seriously -- he's built an small observatory next to his
house. You can send him questions about the night sky
through e-mail, [email protected].)