What’s up in the night sky for the week of October 17-23, 2022.
Ezzy Pearson This fall, Sky at Night Magazine’s Masterclass series returns with a new series of online stargazing discussions. During three sessions, we will be joined by expert astronomers. He will tell us about a different aspect of observation, then remain available to answer all your questions. September 29. Learn to navigate through the stars and constellations. Then, circle the Moon as we get acquainted with the lunar landscape on October 27 and finally meet the neighbors on December 1 and learn how to observe the planets. And if those dates don’t suit you, don’t worry. They will all be available on demand after the conference. Tickets are £15 each or you can save £9 by getting all three at once. Visit www.skyatnightmagazine.com and click on the Virtual Events tab at the top of the page for more details and to book your tickets now.
Chris Bramley Hello and welcome to Star Diary, the podcast from the creators of BBC Skyline Magazine. You can subscribe to the print edition of the magazine or visit www.skyatnightmagazine.com or our digital edition by visiting iTunes or Google Play.
Ezzy Greetings listeners and welcome to Star Diary, a weekly podcast guiding you around the best things to see in the Northern Hemisphere night sky. In this episode, we’ll cover the upcoming week of October 17-23. I’m Ezzy Pearson, editor of the magazine. Unfortunately our editor, Paul Money, who usually joins us on the podcast, couldn’t be with us this week, but I’m still here to give you your weekly recap of all the best things to see in the sky. nocturnal. And for starters, we’re going to start on October 17, when a magnitude of -0.4 on Mars will be just north of the Crab Nebula. So we talked about that a bit at the end of last week’s podcast, and you might want to go back and listen to that for more details. But the Crab Nebula is a pretty dark nebula. Its magnitude is plus 8.4, which means you will need a telescope to be able to see it. However, with Mars just to the north, this makes for a good opportunity to try photographing this nebula. We always love to see your photos, so don’t hesitate to send them to us. You can find details on how to do this at www.skyatnightmagazine.com. So if you manage to take a photo, let us know. It will be visible all night. So you will have a lot of chances to see it. Let’s move on to October 18. We are going to have another star this time in the morning sky. Regular listeners will know that very often Paul laments the fact that you sometimes have to get up early in the morning to be able to see some of these astronomical sites. And sadly, that’s the case for Mercury this week. Mercury will be about 0.8 degrees from the binary star Porrima, also known as Gamma Virginis. Mercury’s magnitude will be -0.9, so it will be nice and bright to be able to see. As always, when it comes to looking at the inner planets, be careful. They are closer to the Sun, which means they tend to occur at sunset or sunrise in this case. So be sure to note the time of your local sunrise, as we don’t want you looking at Mercury through binoculars and accidentally catching sight of the Sun, as it might hurt your eyes. So be very, very careful. Never look at the Sun directly through optics or with the naked eye. So on the 19th, I’m going to take this opportunity to point out something that happens once a week. It does. Like I said, it happens every week, which is why we don’t tend to talk about it on the podcast. But it’s an interesting thing that a lot of people are interested in, and that’s the transits of the moons Europa and Ganymede through the planet Jupiter. So Jupiter has four Galilean moons, they are called because they were discovered by Galileo in the 17th century. And these planets revolve around Jupiter, and when they pass by, you can see them moving around the disc of the planet. They are very easy to see. You can see them with just a pair of binoculars, although they’re best seen through a small telescope or something. And when they pass by, you can not only see them, but also their shadows as they cross the disk of the moon. Ganymede takes seven days to circle Jupiter, while Europa takes 3.5 days. And what that means is that once a week they sync and you can see them both go through together. And this week, it will be October 19th. So Ganymede will transit when the planet rises around 5:30 p.m. Meanwhile, Europa will move from 5:15 p.m. to 7:40 p.m. Europe’s shadow will change from 6:10 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. And then finally Ganymede’s shadow will disappear from Jupiter’s view around 8:30 p.m. So anytime you look from the time you can first see Jupiter in the night sky until about 9 p.m., you should be able to see a moon or shadow transiting Jupiter. So there is a lot of chance to see something nice and early evening. You might also want to keep an eye out for another moon that will be near Jupiter, and that’s Io, which will actually be eclipsed by the planet. It will pass behind the planet around 6:30 a.m. and then reappear around 9:00 a.m. So if you’re out there looking at Jupiter and taking in the view anyway, maybe keep an eye out for Io as it flashes out of sight and disappears behind the planet. Finally, we are going to end the week of October 21 with a meteor shower. Meteor showers are always great things to see. These are very accessible ways to start accessing the night sky. So if you have someone you want to get involved in astronomy, this might be the occasion and that will be the Orionids meteor shower and which will peak at 7:00 p.m. BST on October 21. You will be able to see something on either side of that. So if the weather doesn’t cooperate on the 21st, maybe keep an eye out for the 20th, on the 22nd there will still be a relatively decent rate of meteors on those nights. That said, the Orionids aren’t one of the most prolific meteor showers of the year. It has what is called a zenith hourly rate or ZHR of around 20 meteors per hour. That means, if in perfectly perfect conditions, if you looked straight into the night sky, if the atmosphere behaved on its own. If your eyesight is really good, you could probably see about 20 meteors per hour. It certainly won’t. Life never cooperated like this. And so you’re probably going to see a lot less than that. You might only see a handful, like five or ten meteors in the whole hour. To give you the best chance of being able to see them, it’s really important to properly acclimatize your eyes and adapt to the dark. And the best way to do that is to distance yourself from all forms of light that you can. If you can go to a dark sky site, that’s great. But it could be just going to your local park or something, or even, you know, that corner of your back garden where you’re sheltered from all the streetlights around you. Give yourself as long as you can, 10, 20 minutes, maybe even an hour, to allow your eyes to properly adjust. And you can hopefully see all those meteor trails. They are called the Orionids because they seem to come from the constellation of Orion. So if you traced all the meteors, you would find that they all point to Orion. This point is called the radiant, where they all seem to come from. And the radiant in this case is actually going to be right next to Orion’s left shoulder, which is the star Betelgeuse. And you don’t really want to watch that. This is actually where the meteor trails will be the shortest as they are heading straight for you. You actually want to be looking about 90 degrees from this point, so find Orion, then turn at a right angle. And that should be where you’re trying to look. So 90 degrees. This is where the trails will be the longest and you will have the best views. You might also want to look south as there are some really good constellations in that part of the sky. So you’ll have something to watch while you adjust to the darkness and wait for those meteors to appear. It’s a great group activity. It’s a great way to get kids involved in the night sky and it’ll also be good because the moon won’t rise until around 4am. So you have plenty of life time in the evening to be able to see them before it happens and starts messing things up with its big glowing self and blocking out all the dark meteors.
Ezzy So going back on October 17, we have Mars near the Crab Nebula on October 18 which Mercury is going to do and its encounter with the binary star, Porimma. Then on the 19th, Europa and Ganymede pass through Jupiter. And finally on the 21st we have the Orionid meteor shower. So there is plenty to get up for next week. And if you want to hear even more about what’s to come in the night sky over the next few weeks, be sure to subscribe to the podcast where we’ll give you your weekly guide to all there is to see. Until then, goodbye.
Ezzy If you want to discover even more spectacular sights that will adorn the night sky throughout the month. Be sure to pick up a copy of BBC Sky at Night Magazine where we have a 16-page Sky guide with a comprehensive overview of everything worth looking up. Whether you like looking at the Moon, planets or the deep sky, whether you use binoculars, telescopes or neither, our sky guide has you covered with the detailed star charts to help you track your way across the night sky for all of us here at BBC Sky and Night Magazine. Goodbye.
Chris Bramley Thanks for listening to this episode of the Star Dairy podcast from the creators of BBC Sky at Night Magazine. For more of our podcasts, visit our website at skyatnightmagazine.com Or go to ACast, iTunes or Spotify.