SCAS – Southern Colorado Skies / October 9 – 15, 2016

Consider a planetarium program to help you plan your observations. There are many commercial products available, and an excellent program (STELLARIUM) is available free at http://www.stellarium.org/.

DOUBLE CLUSTER IN PERSEUS

Do you have a pair of binoculars? There is a nice “deep sky” object waiting for your attention smack dab between the constellations of Perseus and Cassiopeia. It’s called the ‘double cluster’ (more technically known as NGC 869 and NGC 884). I took the following photo Sunday morning through my 5-inch refractor, , but a telescope is not necessary to appreciate this easy-to-find object (I have observed it without any optical aid from my back yard the past few mornings).

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If you’re a morning person like me, note that these two constellations are high in the north-northwest just before dawn. I took the following photo for this blog with a “regular camera lens” a few mornings ago to help you find the double cluster if you want to give it a try (expand the photos and the starfields will come across better). If you want to wait until all of this is available in the evening skies before you venture outside, you can see the same scene high overhead about 8 p.m. in mid-January.

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THIS WEEK

Tuesday (October 11)

Jupiter and Mercury have a close conjunction early this morning. Look low due east about 45 minutes before sunrise, when they will be 0.8 degrees apart.

Friday (October 14)

Full Moon at 10:23 p.m.

PLANETS

Mercury (in Virgo)

Mercury is very low due east in early dawn. Look about 40 minutes before sunrise. Jupiter and Mercury have a close conjunction, 0.8 degrees apart, in the morning on Tuesday, October 11th.

Venus (in Libra)

Very low in the west-southwest about 30 minutes after sunset.

Mars (in Sagittarius)

Look in the south-southwest at nightfall. Mars is now passing above the “teapot” of Sagittarius.

Jupiter (in Virgo)

Jupiter and Mercury have a close conjunction, 0.8 degrees apart, in the morning on Tuesday, October 11th.

Saturn (in Ophiuchus)

Look in the southwest at dusk, Saturn starts the week about 25 degrees from Venus and ends the week about 18 degrees apart (about the distance between your spread fingers and thumb, held at arm’s length). At the same time, Saturn increases its distance from Mars from 25 degrees to 30 degrees. Don’t forget to look for Antares, about 6 degrees below Saturn.

NASA’s Cassini mission is finishing up its final year of exploration (click here for NASA press release).

Uranus (in Pisces)

High in the east by nightfall Uranus will be at opposition on October 15th.

Neptune (in Aquarius)

High in the southeast by nightfall.

BRIGHT IRIDIUM FLARES

Monday (October 10): 7:42 p.m. / Magnitude -3.8 / SSE / elevation 49 degrees

Thursday (October 13): 5:55 a.m. / Magnitude -3.7 / N / elevation 38 degrees

INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (ISS)

These are too numerous to list here! If you’re serious, load the ISS DETECTOR app on your smart phone or tablet.

Have fun!

Dave Furry, SCAS Director of Education

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