Autumn’s astronomical adventures

Jupiter and its four largest moons (montage)

Jupiter and its four largest moons (montage) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Mario Carr

As we move into autumn, you can see the changes in the night sky.

Summer’s signature constellation like the teapot in Sagittarius is tipping over pouring out the last bits of summer, as it sets in the west. Bright constellations like Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Pegasus and Perseus appear in the northeast.

Autumn is a great time for observing. The nights are comfortable and darkness falls early. The first day of autumn began with the autumn equinox on Sept 22 when night and day were both 12 hours long. On that date, sunrise was due east and sunset was due west.

Each progressive night, darkness will fall about three minutes earlier. The sun will also rise and set a little to the south each night as the earth’s northern hemisphere receives less light from the sun making it chillier. At the same time, the earth’s southern hemisphere receives more sunlight, with the arrival of spring.

Here are October stargazer events. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar, which will go on sale shortly.

Planet watching

Mercury is very low in the western evening twilight sky and vanishes later in the month. Venus can be seen in the southwest evening sky. Mars is in the eastern morning sky. Jupiter rises in the north eastern sky late in the evening. Saturn can be seen in the western evening sky but vanishes into twilight later in the month. Uranus can be seen all night.

Oct. 3 – Uranus is at opposition meaning that it rises in the east at sunset and sets in the west at sunrise.

Oct. 6 – The thin waxing moon will be just above Mercury and below Saturn low in the evening sky.

Oct. 7 – The Draconid meteor shower peaks. The moon is also close to Venus low in the western evening sky.

Oct. 11 – If you have a telescope, you can see Jupiter’s moons Callisto, Io and Europa cast triple shadows across the planet.

Oct. 11 – Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m., Spectator building, 44 Frid St., Hamilton. Free admission with door prizes and everyone is welcome. An optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods will be collected.

The club’s observing director John Gauvreau will talk about The State of the Universe Address.

Oct. 18 – The full moon is called the Hunter’s Moon. Comet ISON also appears near Mars in the eastern morning sky.

Oct. 20 – Orionid meteor shower peaks.

Oct. 29 – Crescent moon is close to Mars in the eastern morning sky.

For more information, please see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers web site at http://www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323.

Mario Carr is the club’s director of public education and appears on CHCH-TV to talk about the night sky. He can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca.

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About Mario Carr

Mario Carr has a Physics degree from McMaster University and hosts this blog. He is the director of public education for the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers and has helped to raise the profile of the group. He writes an astronomy column and appears on CHCH-TV to talk about the night sky. Mario is the founder of the Carr Marketing Group in Burlington, Ontario and can help with your marketing, communications, publicity and public relations needs. He can be reached at www.carrmarketinggroup.com or mariocarr@cogeco.ca.
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