Current Night Sky

 MANITOBA SKIES – October 2018

Contributed by Malaïka Brandt-Murenzi, Science Communicator

Planets - October 2018

Jupiter will be in the southwestern sky all month just after sunset, setting earlier every night and hovering just above the western horizon by the end of the month.

After sunset, Saturn will be in the southern portion of the sky moving westward every night. By the end of the month, Saturn will be setting shortly after sunset in the western sky.

Mars will be visible all month until after midnight. Appearing in the southern sky at dusk every night, Mars will move slightly westward and sets after midnight.

Although barely visible to the naked eye, from a dark location, Uranus will be at opposition on October 23 in the south to southwestern sky. It will be even harder to spot on that night, as it will be very close to the soon-to-be full Moon. (It's almost the same to see it any night this month, though.)

Using a telescope will be extremely beneficial this month; Saturn will be at an angle that allows for fair viewing of its rings, though not as dramatic as in September. On October 16th, Mars will be experiencing its winter solstice, which is a good time for viewing Mars. The planet’s diameter still appears to be quite large, though not as large as it did in August.

Zodiacal light, sometimes called “false dawn”, is a phenomenon created by interplanetary dust. This dust is left over from the formation of the inner planets and is being lit up by the Sun’s light. Visible from very dark locations, a couple hours before sunrise, there will be a large cone of light reaching from the eastern horizon, up to the constellation of Gemini. This light can be mistaken for the light produced by a small town in the distance.

For more information on solar system events, check out the September/October issue of SkyNews Magazine.


Sky Events- October 2018

October 1: NASA turns 60 years old.

October 8: New Moon (ideal for stargazing as the night sky will be especially dark). Also, the Draconids meteor shower will be most active on the evening of October 8th; this is a minor meteor shower that only produces about 10 meteors per hour at its peak. The timing of this showwer is unique, as most meteor showers peak in the very early morning hours.

October 11: there is a conjunction of the Moon in its waxing crescent phase and Jupiter. The Moon will pass four degrees north of Jupiter.

October 14: there is a conjunction of the Moon and Saturn, a two degree difference.

October 18: conjunction of the waning gibbous Moon and Mars.

October 20 - 22: the Orionid meteor shower peaks, providing up to 20 meteors per hour. Early morning is the best viewing time, but the almost full Moon will outshine some of the dimmer meteors. This shower is one of two that is caused by the remnants of Halley’s Comet passing through our solar system, which it does approximately every 76 years.

October 23: Uranus is at opposition, which means our two planets are as close to each other as possible in our respective orbits. While technically visible to the naked eye from very dark locations, binoculars or telescopes are your best bet to spot it, especially with the almost full Moon right next to it.

October 24: full Moon.

Other events of interest to sky watchers can be found in SkyNews magazine, the Canadian Magazine of Astronomy & Stargazing.

To spot the International Space Station as it passes over southern Manitoba, visit Heavens-Above.com which calculates times and directions for you.