October, 2016 Programs
#1 — THE AUTUMN CONSTELLATIONS
Locate the mythical figures in the current sky above Lincoln, and learn their legends. Then, weather permitting, take a guided tour of the sky on the terrace behind the observatory with one of our volunteers who will show you how to locate the important stars and objects in the current night sky. Running time: 19 minutes.
#2 — EXPLORE MARS
Mars is in our night sky, very far away, and tiny even in telescopes. But it has been probed and explored up close by satellites orbiting it and rovers roaming its surface. Explore Mars pulls together some of the most exciting recent discoveries about the red planet. Running time: 21 minutes.
October Objects in the Hyde Telescopes
We are losing the planets that have dominated our evening sky all summer. Jupiter now appears in the early morning sky. Saturn is diving into the post-sunset glare, appearing just above Antares, the red giant star that is the heart of the constellation Scorpius, the Scorpion. Towards the end of October, bright Venus will move between Saturn and Antares, forming a nice triplet, but very low in the southwest and straining to be seen in dusk light. Mars is working hard to scurry eastward as the background sky rotates westward. So, Mars remains visible through the Hyde telescopes in the constellation Sagittarius … but Earth is pulling farther away from Mars. (Earth moves much faster in its orbit than Mars … we have to go faster to keep from falling into the sun, because we’re much closer to it than Mars.) Bottom line: As we put Mars in our rear view, it keeps getting smaller and dimmer with each passing day. And Mars is pretty small to begin with, so it’s hard to see much detail on its surface.
The Moon New moon (the “dark” of the moon) is on October 1, so the moon is out of our evening sky on that date. (By the way, the moon is also New on October 30, so there are two New Moons this month. Some wags on the Internet are making a big deal about this, calling the second one a very rare “Black Moon.” This is just more Internet Hype. Two new moons occur occasionally because the moon goes through its phases every 29-1/2 days, and most months are 30-31 days. Do the math — there are bound to be months that have 2 new moons.) The best time to view the moon in the Hyde telescopes this month will be on the night of October 8, just before First Quarter. The moon will be nearing Full on the 15th — visible in telescopes, but with few shadows on the surface to provide the visual relief that allows us to see details of craters, mountains and other surface features. The moon will rise too late to be visible on public nights October 22 and 29.
Deep sky objects (stars, galaxies and nebulae) will be on full display in October, particularly on the nights of October 22 and 29, when the moon is not blotting out the evening sky.