Yukon Sky Report – October 2022
By: Shale Davis
This month the Moon will start out nearly half illuminated reaching first quarter by the third.
On the ninth the Moon will be full and will rise high in the sky. On the evening of the fourteenth the Moon will be strikingly close to the Red Planet. On the twenty fifth we will reach new moon.
Mercury: in sharp contrast to it’s location last month Mercury is favourably positioned for observers in the northern hemisphere. Remember that Mercury never strays to far from the Sun so your viewing widow is quite short. Look to the east at about 8:00am to 8:30am [just before Sun Rise] and you should be able to glimpse it shining around 12 degrees. This can best be seen a few days before and after the eighth, after which Mercury will dive closer to the rising sun.
Venus: this month Venus will be quite a challenge to spot as it rises only minutes before the sun to the east. It is sometimes possible to spot bright planets during the day but use extreme caution, accidentally [or intentionally] viewing the sun with an unfiltered telescope can not only damage your equipment but also blind you. You know how you can light a fire with a magnifying glass, same idea.
Mars: continuing to drift further from Aldebaran Mars is a great target. Owners of large telescopes under ideal conditions may be able to resolve some detail in the red planet as it draws closer to opposition. Look to Taurus’s horns to the south east at any time between 1:00am and 6:00am and you will spot it.
Jupiter: impressive as always Jupiter continues to light up the Yukon night sky. Observers viewing with even simple binoculars will be treated to a dazzling display of Jupiter commanding it four largest moons. For best views observe while Jupiter is highest around 1:00am to the south.
Saturn: a favourite of many astronomers, cuz if you love it put a ring on it. If you wish to see Saturn’s glamorous ring system for your self then you will need at least large binoculars. Currently Saturn is dimming after it’s opposition back in august so your widow to view this magnificent planet is drawing to a close. Look directly south at the very reasonable hour of 9:30pm and you should find Saturn lying just 12 degrees above the horizon. This may be easier said then done as right now Saturn is no brighter then your average star.
Uranus: an interesting target Uranus is still present high in the night sky. For those planning to view the seventh planet try scanning the space in between Jupiter and Mars along the ecliptic with binoculars. look for a pale green light that does not appear to twinkle.
Neptune: a celestial recluse, Neptune is still there for those ambitious enough to seek out it’s faint blue glow. Search the sky just around Jupiter and a trained eye will notice it’s non stellar demeanour. Hard to believe it’s been over 176 years since it’s discovery.
This month the Orionids come into full swing. These streaks of light actually hail from none other than Haily’s Comet, little pieces of dust left behind in it’s orbit which the Earth runs into every year.
The showers namesake comes from the constellation Orion, which is where they appear to emanate from. In fact the exact epicentre of the shower is Orion’s arm. I like to imagine The great Hunter trying to throw rocks at us, as though the Earth is a juicy bird.
The Orionids will peak on the night of the twentieth and the morning of the twenty first.
When hunting for shooting stars it is often better to not look directly at the epicentre but rather to the side almost 50 degrees in the wrong direction. This has to with the fact that our eyes pick up light better in our peripheral vision, this is of course up to you.
This debris, often no bigger than a grain of sand, collides with our atmosphere at over 60 kilometres a second and often leave a trail of ionized air in there wake. The trails left behind are sometimes visible for several seconds.
Deep Sky Objects
Well there are quite a few Deep Sky Objects showing themselves this month. Orion of course is still Packed with lots of interesting DSO’s including the famous Orion Nebula, the Flame Nebula, and the Horse Head among others.
The Big Dipper is another part of the sky overflowing with Deep Sky Gems, see if you can find Bode’s Galaxy or maybe even the cute Cigar Galaxy.