This Month’s Sky – October 2014

October “Skylights”
October 2014

October’s Evening Planets:
Mars will be up until around 9 PM throughout October, traveling from Scorpius the Scorpion to Sagittarius the Archer. Saturn will be visible in Libra the Scales for an hour after sunset in the first half of October. Blue Neptune will be in Aquarius the Water Bearer until 4 AM, setting earlier every morning. By the end of October, it will set around 2 AM. Uranus will be in Pisces the Fish all night. Dwarf planet Pluto will be in Sagittarius the Archer until around 11 PM.

October’s Evening Stars:
Spot the Summer Triangle with Vega in Lyra the Harp, Deneb in Cygnus the Swan, and Altair in Aquila the Eagle until around 1:00 AM. Bright Capella in Auriga the Charioteer will be up all night. See the stars of constellations Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Perseus, Cepheus, Draco, Sagittarius, Pegasus, Aquarius, Aries, Taurus, Pisces, Capricornus, and the two Dippers.

October’s Morning Planets:
Neptune will linger until pre-dawn hours, and Uranus will stay up all through October. Jupiter rises in Cancer the Crab around 2 AM, then earlier each morning until rising at 1 AM by the end of the month. Venus will be visible in Virgo the Virgin the first two weeks of October shortly before sunrise, while Mercury will be visible in Virgo the last two weeks before sunrise.

October’s Morning Stars:
Spot the Winter Triangle with Sirius, the brightest star viewed from Earth, in Canis Major the Great Dog, Betelgeuse in Orion the Hunter, and Procyon in Canis Minor the Small Dog after 1:00 AM. See Capella in Auriga the Charioteer and the stars of Taurus, Aries, Gemini, Orion, Pisces, Pegasus, Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Draco, Perseus, and the two Dippers.

October “Skylights”
Oct 1 First Quarter Moon at 3:32 AM
Oct 4 Mercury is stationary at 2:00 PM
Oct 5 Moon is 5° north of Neptune
Oct 6 Moon is at perigee (225,230 miles from Earth)
Oct 7 Uranus is at opposition at 5:00 PM
Oct 8 Full Moon; Total Lunar Eclipse begins 6:27 AM
Oct 15 Last Quarter Moon at 3:12 PM
Oct 17 Moon is 5° south of Jupiter
Oct 18 Moon is at apogee (251,595 miles from Earth)
Oct 19 Comet Siding Spring (C/2013 A1) passes Mars at 81,000 miles
Oct 21 Orionid Meteor Shower peaks
Oct 23 Partial Solar Eclipse begins 5:49 PM; New Moon at 6:00 PM
Oct 25 Mercury is stationary at 3:00 AM
Oct 28 Mars is 7° south of the Moon
Oct 30 First Quarter Moon at 10:48 PM
Times – in EDT

The Blood Moon Eclipse

On the early morning of October 8, the full moon will have a total lunar eclipse, allowing the Moon to shed off its silver-white brightness and turn into a reddish disk.

Is it really going to look red?
In a lunar eclipse, Earth is positioned between the Sun and the Moon, hiding the Sun’s light from the Moon. The light disseminated by the Earth’s sunrises and sunsets falls on the Moon at the middle of the eclipse, giving it a coppery-red look. In general, full moons appear dark at the beginning and end of a total lunar eclipse, and appear reddish at the mid-point for about an hour.

Is it visible from New York?
Yes, most of the eclipse can be seen from New York City from the penumbral eclipse start at 4:17 AM. The total eclipse begins at 6:27 AM, achieving a maximum at 6:55 AM, and finishes at 7:22 AM. Unfortunately, the Moon sets at 7:01 AM. The entire eclipse process takes about five hours to complete with the end of the penumbral at 9:32 AM.

Who else can see the total eclipse?
Most of the U.S. and Canada will be able to view the eclipse until sunrise, while the west coast can see the entire eclipse. East Asia and East Australia will be able to view the eclipse until sunrise.

What do I need to see the eclipse?
The lunar eclipse can be viewed by the naked eye, and all you really need are clear skies. Even with city lights close by, the Moon will still be visible. However, it will be approaching the horizon, so it is recommended that you go to a high point to see it.

What do the terms “blood moon” and “lunar tetrad” mean?
Full moons have traditional names like “Hunter’s Moon” and “Harvest Moon,” but “Blood Moon” and “Lunar Tetrad” have only been used more recently, derived from language in the Christian Bible. The tetrad refers to four successive total lunar eclipses, each separated by six full moons. The lunar eclipse on October 8 will be the second in a tetrad. Eight tetrads occur this century.

When is the next lunar eclipse?
The next two total lunar eclipses will take place on April 4 and September 28 in 2015.