October 2017 Menu

Astro for October

“Uncle Bob”

What in the World?!!

Two views of Saturn’s moon Pan.


Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

October Highlights. On the 5th Venus and Mars will be in close conjunction in the pre-dawn sky. Using binoculars may help us pick out a shy Mars amidst the glare of Venus and the brightness of the full moon.

At dusk near the top of the sky we will see Deneb, the tail of Cygnus the Swan, as it flies down to the northwestern horizon by year’s end. Viewing it in these last months, we see it take on its other guise, that of a crucifix. The Swan is also known as the Northern Cross. Dim Alberio, at the base of the cross – one of the most colorful double stars of all – will be difficult to spot this month and will soon disappear until late next spring for evening viewing.

The Cassini spacecraft did meet its end, as scheduled, by diving into Saturn’s atmosphere on September 15. Astronomers are hoping the final data transmissions will have some new findings, but the mission is a smashing success regardless. And while we wait for those results, we have more pics from Cassini to enjoy and ponder. Especially interesting to me are the moons Iapetus, Pan and Daphnis


Saturn drifts lower and lower in the west after sunset.

I’m reminded by Guy Ottewell that October 22 is the birthday of the universe according to some. They date it back to 4004 B.C.E and that’s a generous enough span to include Aristotle and his Earth-centered cosmos of perfect orbs inhabiting crystal spheres. Um. Better have another look at the moons of Saturn.

A more detailed nightly log is at Guy’s Universal Workshop


Have I mentioned my memoir? It contains an entire chapter on my experiences in starry matters. It’s on sale at the Uncle Bob Store.

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