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THIS MONTH’S SKY - October 2012


     October's Evening Planets -- There's very little excitement this month. Mercury is in the evening sky early in the month, but is visible only with binoculars or telescopes. The same applies to Saturn. The only naked-eye planet is Mars, who's speedy movement keeps it from falling into the Sun.

     October's Evening Stars -- The Summer Triangle (Cygnus, Lyra and Aquila) are still brilliant. To the south are Scorpius and Sagittarius. Autumn constellations entering the scene include Pegasus, Andromeda and Perseus to the north, and fainter Capricornus and Aquarius.

     October's Morning Planets -- Jupiter rises about 10 PM on October 1st and 8 PM on Halloween. It's in Taurus. Venus is still prominent, rising three-and-a-half hours before the Sun on the first of the month and 3 hours at its end. On the third it will be less than one degree from the bright star (Regulus). Venus moves from Leo into Virgo on October 23.

     October's Morning Stars -- The great constellations are now well up in the east. These center around Orion, the Great Hunter, and include Taurus the Bull, Auriga the Charioteer, Gemini the Twins, Canis Major the Large Dog and Canis Minor the Small Dog.

October's "Skylights":
4: Jupiter is stationary (beginning retrograde motion).
5: Jupiter is 5.7 degrees east of the Moon.
6: Mercury is only 3 degrees from Saturn in the twilight sky. Binoculars or telescopes required.
8: Draconid meteors peek. Last Quarter Moon at 3:33 AM EDT.
12: Venus is 6.5 degrees north of the Moon.
14: The crescent Moon is very low 45 minutes before sunrise.
15: New Moon at 8:03 AM EDT.
16: The crescent Moon is low in the west shortly after sunset.
18: Mars is 4.8 degrees southwest of the Moon.
20: Mars is 3.1 degrees north of Antares.
21: Orionid meteors peak. First Quarter Moon at 11:32 PM EDT.
25: Saturn is in conjunction with the Sun, entering the morning sky.
29: Full Moon at 3:49 PM EDT.