OCTOBER 2010, STARS OVER WOLLUMBIN, OUR SOUTHERN SKY

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October’s fewer visible Planets**********

MERCURY, now Morning Star, remains visible only the first few days of October, low above the eastern horizon before sunrise. Mercury reached its Inferior Conjunction with the Sun on September 3, re-emerging as a Morning Star on September 9. Elusive Mercury will reappear as an Evening Star in the west after sunset around the end of November, by then transiting very close to Mars.**

These are the last days to observe VENUS in the evening sky, because our sister planet is slowly edging toward the Sun, every evening dropping lower down in the west. Venus will reach magnitude -4.8 by October 1, becoming Stationary Retrograde on October 8.

By October 19 Venus will disappear completely in the glow of the setting Sun, reaching her Inferior Conjunction with the Sun on October 28. She will re-appear as the Morning Star in early November.

The best observation of Venus without a telescope in October will be on October 7, when she will be visually close to Mars, and also October 10 when the Crescent Moon will become close to both. Snapshots of these events will be posted a couple of days before they are due. Venus appears as a crescent (see picture below) in small telescopes or strong binoculars, with only 20% of her surface illumined.

The Evening Star’s incarnation of Venus still active this month represents a collective opportunity to become more self-reflective, acknowledging our contribution to any relationship issues we may be experiencing. The Goddess of Love is looking deeper into our hearts and show us the way to a less self-centered and more aware kind of loving.

MARS is still visible after sunset in the South West, dimming as the month advances and also inching closer to the horizon. It will remain in the proximity of Venus, a faint reddish star (+1.5 magnitude). Mars will end the month in the claws of the Scorpion as shown in the scape-scape below, taken on October 30, around 8 pm, low in the West.


Dazzling JUPITER, rising in the East at sunset and setting in the West at sunrise, is at his closest to the Earth in 47 years (since 1963). This phenomenon will not occur again for another 12 years (until 2022). Jupiter will remain visible and bright for many more weeks.

With a pair of good binoculars we could even be able to spot far away URANUS, close to Jupiter throughout the night, a bluish/green star-like object,the brightest in the vicinity of Jupiter. Uranus is in fact so bright this month to be just seen even with the naked eye, under dark conditions, in places away from city lights.

Jupiter and Uranus became conjunct for the first time in nearly 14 years on June 9. Jupiter and Uranus meet cyclically (synodical cycle) every 13.7 years. This time they are playing a prolonged duet, though, having  met twice in 2010 (June 9 and September 22) and a third time on January 2, 2011. This is a rarer opportunity for the energies of these planets to blend for a sustained period, so exerting a greater overall influence over the affairs of the whole year. The last time Jupiter and Uranus met three times was in 1983, 27 years ago.

Animation of the triple conjunction of Jupiter-Uranus in 2010/11, from Martin J.Powell astronomical site, can be found HERE.

Observing the eastern sky after sunset we will be able to admire the beautiful Constellation of Pegasus, the flying horse, appearing as a great square just left (North) of Jupiter, as shown in this sky scape taken on October  15, around 8 pm.

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If you are lucky and your place has a very low horizon you may be able to spot SATURN at the very end of October, a Morning Star then, rising just before sunrise.

For the rest of October Saturn is too close to the Sun to be visible. The Sun-Saturn conjunction occurred on October 1.

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All the Sky Snapshots have been generated using Stellarium, a wonderful Planetarium freeware software.

Information for the Sky Events has been gathered from these web sites:

http://stargazing.suite101.com/article.cfm/night-sky-observing-guide-for-june-2010

http://home.mira.net/~reynella/skywatch/ssky.htm#update

http://astroblogger.blogspot.com/

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/mjpowell/Astro/Naked-Eye-Planets/Naked-Eye-Planets.htm#PlanetList

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