Southern Sky Watch

October Skies

The planetary action is moving back to the evening skies, Jupiter is just past opposition and Saturn is still excellent. Mercury and Venus are is lost to view this month.

Saturn, Jupiter and Mars are still visible in the morning skies, though Saturn is progressively harder to see. Useful info for visitors from New Zealand, South Africa and South America.

October 3; First Quarter Moon. October 5; the Moon is close to Saturn. Moon at perigee October 5. October 8-9; the Moon close to Jupiter. October 10; Full Moon. October 15; Mars is close to the waning Moon, Mars and Beta Taruii (Elnath) form a triangle. Apogee; October 17. October 18; Last Quarter Moon. Mornings of the 21st to 23rd; Orionid Meteor Shower . October 25; New Moon. Moon at perigee October 30 (November the 1st will be a perigee First Quarter Moon).


Looking up at the stars is still a rewarding pursuit, despite the increasing light pollution in our major cities. The southern sky is full of interesting objects, many of which go unseen in the northern hemisphere. All you need for a good nights viewing is yourself, a good idea of where south and east are, and your hands. Optional extras are a small pair of binoculars, a torch with red cellophane taped over the business end and a note book. A great many tips for backyard astronomy may be found here, although many of them are more relevant to the northern hemisphere. A general article on amateur astronomy from New Scientist is here (may require subscription otherwise see the TASS site.).

This page is designed to give people a simple guide to the unaided eye sky. In the descriptions of planet and star positions, distances in the sky are given as "fingers width" and "hand span". This is the width of your hand (with all the fingers together as in making a "stop" sign, not bunched as a fist) or finger when extended a full arms length from you.


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Spring is here! Spring brings the wattle flowers and a new round of interesting objects into view in the heavens. Scorpio and Sagittarius slowly leave our night skies to be replaced by Orion and its nebulae, and bright Sirius. The Southern Cross grazes the southern horizon before rising again in summer. It still gets very cold at night, so don't forget to rug up before doing any extended star watching. A blanket or rug to sit on is a good idea, as well as a thermos of your favorite hot beverage.


While these pages are primarily intended for the use of people observing in Australia, non-Australian Southern Hemisphere observers will find most of the information here applies to them. The star information will be most helpful, when you correct your location for latitude (see the Stars section for appropriate location information). Most Moon phase, planet, comet and asteroid information will be very similar to what will be seen in New Zealand, South Africa and South America. Countries close to the equator (eg Indonesia) will have somewhat different southern and northern views, but the eastern and western views should be similar enough to get a good idea of what is going on.

Occultations, eclipses and aurora are highly location dependent, and it would be best to get a local almanac for these events. If there is no local almanac available, email me and I might be able to help you. I do try and give general info for occultations and eclipses in the Oceania area of the Southern Hemisphere.

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Aurora Alert UPDATED 01/04/22: The new solar cycle (25) is starting to heat up, with some M and X class flares and some nice auroral displays in Tasmania and Southern Australia. This bodes well for the rest of the soar cycle. During solar minimum, we were still getting occasional good auroral displays. August 26th 2018 saw an impressive display visible from NZ and Tasmania despite the full Moon. The last week of March 2017 saw some impressive aurora displays from Tasmania, Victoria, SA and WA. October 2016 saw a series of good but transient aurora in Tasmania and southern Victoria. July 2015 saw a massive storm seen as far north as mid NSW, again clouded out for large parts of Australia. 17-19/3/2015, the St. Patrick's Day aurora, massive storm seen as far north as Southern Queensland. Unfortunately clouded out for large parts of Australia. 26/2/2015, yet another good set of aurora were seen from Tasmania. 9/2/2015 There was a series of very good auroral events during February, some were seen in NSW, Victoria, SA and WA as well as Tasmania. Last year saw some nice events and a coronal mass ejection from an M class flare hit us square on on March 17 2013. Aurora were detected as far north as the QLD border, with some really nice events in Tasmania, and here are some images from that event.

Auroral images and descriptions from past geomagnetic storms are now at the auroral image web page.

Naturally, the best views of any aurora will be away from the city and bright lights. Aurora occur when charged particles from the solar wind enter Earths outer atmosphere and interact with the oxygen and nitrogen atoms producing eerie displays of coloured lights. During solar maximum, which occurs every 11 years (and solar cycle 25 should peak around 2024-2025), the number and speed of the particles are higher, allowing them to penetrate the Earth's magnetic field at lower latitudes than normal. Observers in Tasmania are likely to see green glows or sheets of light in the southern sky. Observers in Southern Victoria are more likely to see a red glow in the southern sky, although more spectacular displays are possible.

The Astronomical Society of Tasmania has a webpage devoted to this phenomenon. The Australian IPS radio and space services covers Aurora and related phenomena in very great detail (too much if you don't know much about them) but has a nice education page. Flinders Uni also has real time magnetometer readings, however, this will probably not mean much to most people.

Aurora will generally follow solar flares by about 2 days, and a number of instruments are watching the sun for these outbursts. The solar minimum occurred in 2006 and persisted for some time. While sunspot numbers, and hence flare rates are increasing, sometimes months will go by without an alert, then you have three in a week. The space weather site at http://www.spaceweather.com gives notice of when solar winds likely to cause aurora will arrive. Alternatively, send an email to reynella@internode.on.net with "subscribe aurora alert" as the subject and I will send you an email alert of any likely auroral event (or other interesting sky phenomena). However, even a strong solar flare is no guarantee that you will be able to see aurora, but it does increase the probability. Still more alternatively, there are the facebook pages Aurora Australis Tasmania, Aurora Australis Tasmania NOW! and Aurora Australis all do discussions and alerts.

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Email alerts

I try to update this page fairly regularly outside of the monthly postings. However sometimes things happen which I can't get in fast enough, or you forget to mark your calendar. If you would like to be alerted to or reminded of interesting astronomical or sky phenomena, send an email to reynella@internode.on.net with "subscribe aurora alert" as the subject. This is the old aurora alert list, but with auroras rare even though we are heading towards solar maximum (except for the occasional humdinger, like the September 2005 auroral event), it is doing double duty. I am running the list via MailChimp, and no personal data is harvested or passed on to third parties. Astroblog will have images when possible of these events soon after.

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Coming events

Special events are bolded

Date Event
January
1 January 2022 Occultation of Mars
4 January 2022 Earth at Perihelion
4 January 2022 Crescent Moon, Mercury, and Saturn close low in the evening twilight
6 January 2022 Jupiter and Crescent Moon close
30 January 2022 Crescent Moon forms a triangle with Mars and Venus 
February
2 February 2022 Mars close to M28
3 February 2022 Jupiter close to the thin crescent Moon low in the twilight
6 February 2022Mars near globular cluster M22
13 February 2022 Mercury, Mars and Venus form a triangle in the morning sky.
27-28 February 2022 Crescent Moon, Mars and Venus form a triangle in the morning sky.
March
1 March 2022 Mercury, Saturn and thin crescent Moon form a triangle in the morning twilight
3 March 2022 Mercury very close (0.6 degrees) from Saturn in morning twilight
21 March 2022Earth at Equinox, Five bright planets visible in the morning twilight, Jupiter and Mercury close in the morning twilight.
28 March 2022Crescent Moon, Saturn, Venus and Mars from a close massing in the morning twilight with the Moon above
29 March 2022 Crescent Moon, Saturn, Venus and Mars from a close massing in the morning twilight with the Moon below
31 March 2022Thin crescent Moon close to Jupiter low in the morning twilight
April
All April 2022 Four bright planets in the morning sky Moon in the morning sky
5 April 2022 Saturn and Mars very close (0.3 degrees apart) in the morning sky
13 April 2022 Jupiter close to Neptune in the morning sky
26 April 2022 Mars close to the crescent Moon in the morning sky
27-28 April 2022 Crescent Moon close to Venus and Jupiter in the morning sky
28 April 2022 Venus and Neptune in close conjunction (< 30 arc minutes) in the morning sky
May
1  May 2022 Venus and Jupiter very close in the morning sky (0.2 degrees apart)
6-7 May 2022 Eta Aquariid meteor shower
22 May 2022
Waning Moon above Saturn
25 May 2022Mars, Jupiter and waning Moon form a triangle in morning sky
27 May 2022 Crescent Moon above Venus
30 May 2022 Mars and Jupiter very close in the morning sky (0.6 degrees apart)
June
1 June 2022 Mars and Jupiter very close in the morning sky (1.0 degrees apart)
18 June 2022 Saturn near waning Moon low in the late evening sky
14 June 2022 Perigee Full Moon ("super Moon")
21 June 2022 Earth at solstice
22 June 2022 Mercury in head of Hyades near Aldebaran in morning sky, waning Moon near Jupiter
26 June 2022 Crescent  Moon between Venus and Pleiades in the morning sky
27 June 2022 Crescent  Moon near Mercury in the morning sky
July
1 July 2022 Venus close to Aldebaran in the morning, forming a second eye for Taurus the Bull
4 July 2022 Earth at aphelion
14 July 2022Syzygy Perigee full moon ("super Moon") closest of year
15 July 2022
Moon close to Saturn
19 July
Moon close to Jupiter
22 July 2022 Waning crescent Moon close to Mars (within binocular field)
26 July 2022 Venus near crescent Moon in the morning twilight
29-30 July 2022 Southern Delta Aquarids meteor shower
30 July 2022 Mercury close to crescent moon in western evening twilight
31 July
Mars and Uranus 2 degrees apart (in same binocular field)
August
1-3 August 2022 Mars and Uranus less than  2 degrees apart (in same binocular filed)
4 August 2022 Mercury very close to Regulus (0.7 degrees) in the evening twilight
12 August 2022 Saturn close to Full Moon (perigee "super" Moon)
15 August 2022 Saturn at opposition
15 August 2022 Jupiter close to Waning Moon (1 degree)
20 August 2022 Mars near Moon in Morning
22 August 2022 Jupiter near Moon
29 August 2022 Mercury near thin crescent Moon in evening sky, Mars between Pleiades and Hyades in the morning sky
September
3 September 2022 Mars forms second "eye" in Taurus the Bull with Aldebaran in morning sky
8 September 2022 Waxing moon close to Saturn in evening sky
11 September 2022 Waning Moon close to Jupiter in evening sky
23 September 2022 Earth at Equinox
27 September 2022 Jupiter at Opposition
October
5 October 2022 Saturn and waxing Moon close in evening sky
8 October 2022 Jupiter and waxing Moon close in evening sky
14 October 2022 Mars and the waxing Moon close in evening sky
21-22 October 2022 Orionid meteor shower
November
2 November 2022 Waxing Moon near Saturn in evening sky
4-5 November 2022Waxing Moon near Jupiter in evening sky
8 November 2022 Total Lunar Eclipse
11 November 2022 Waxing Moon near Mars in evening sky
18 November 2022Leonid Meteor Shower
December
2 December 2022 Jupiter and waxing Moon close
8 December 2022 Mars at opposition and close to Full Moon
14 December 2022
Geminid Meteor shower in the morning (waning Moon close this year)
22 December 2022 Earth is at Solstice
24 December 2022 Venus and Mercury and thin crescent Moon are close in evening twilight.
26 December
Saturn near crescent Moon
28-30 December 2022 Venus and Mercury at their closest in evening twilight.
29 December 2022 Jupiter close (1 degree) from the waning Moon in evening

Out in Space

Mars Curiosity Rover celebrates ten years on Mars.

Mars Express peers into Mars's watery crust.

The NASA wants help with Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter images to spot clouds.

The newest rover, Perseverance Investigates Geologically Rich Mars Terrain.

The Juno mission Shares First Image From Flyby of Jupiter’s Moon Europa.

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The Moon:

Current Phase of the Moon.
This is a JavaScript applet kindly supplied by Darren Osbourne. It shows the Moon as Southern Hemisphere viewers see it, and is upside down from the Northern Hemisphere perspective.

C| First quarter on the 3rd
O Full Moon on the 10th
D Last quarter on the 18th
O New Moon is on the 25th

October 3; First Quarter Moon. October 5; the Moon is close to Saturn. Moon at perigee October 5. October 8-9; the Moon close to Jupiter. October 10; Full Moon. October 15; Mars is close to the waning Moon, Mars and Beta Taruii (Elnath) form a triangle. Apogee; October 17. October 18; Last Quarter Moon. October 25; New Moon. Moon at perigee October 30 (November the 1st will be a perigee First Quarter Moon).

An interactive calendar of the Moon's phases.

A view of the phase of the Moon for any date from 1800 A.D. to 2199, US based, so that the Moon is upside down with respect to us. The image above is from this source.

The phases of the Moon have been linked in the popular imagination to activities as diverse as madness and menstruation. However, careful study has shown that there are no such links. This web page outlines how the Moon is unconnected with a wide range of human activities.

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Planets:

Finding planets, even with the directions below, can sometimes be difficult if you are unfamiliar with the sky. However, the Moon is very obvious, and can be a guide to location of planets. Not only that, the combination of the Moon and bright planet(s) is often very beautiful. Thus the guide below gives the dates when the planets and the Moon are close together.
Evening sky on Wednesday October 5 as seen from Adelaide at 20:48 pm ACDST.

Evening sky on Wednesday October 5 as seen from Adelaide at 20:48 pm ACDST(90 minutes after sunset). Saturn is near the waxing Moon. Similar views will be seen from the rest of Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset).

Evening sky on Saturday October 8 as seen from Adelaide at 20:51 pm ACST.

Evening sky on Saturday October 8 as seen from Adelaide at 20:51 pm ACST (90 minutes after sunset). Jupiter is close to the waxing Moon. Similar views will be seen from the rest of Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset).

Morning sky on Saturday October 15 as seen from Adelaide at 05:08 ACDST (90 minutes before sunrise)

Morning sky on Saturday October 15 as seen from Adelaide at 05:08 ACDST (90 minutes before sunrise). The waning Moon, Mars and Beta Taruii (Elnath) form a triangle. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes before sunrise), click to embiggen.

Mercury returns to the morning sky this month, but never really makes it out of the twilight glow.

Venus is lost in the twilight glow and will return to the evening sky in December.

Mars is becoming brighter as it nears opposition, it is traveling down the “horns” of Taurus the Bull, away from the Hyades and Red Aldebaran and by the end of the Month will be between Beta and Zeta Taurii (the tips of the horns). On October 15th, the waning Moon, Mars and Beta Taruii (Elnath) form a triangle.

On the 1st Mars is just over six hand-spans from the northern horizon an hour and a half before sunrise. By the 15th Mars is just under six hand-spans from the northern horizon an hour and a half before sunrise. On the 30th Mars is five hand-spans from the northern horizon an hour and a half before sunrise.

Jupiter rises shortly before the sky is fully dark and climbs higher in the evening sky and is an excellent telescopic object in the mid evening to early morning. Jupiter was at opposition, when it was biggest and brightest as seen from Earth on September the 27th. Jupiter is visible the whole night long. On the 8th and 9th Jupiter is just above, and then below the waxing Moon.

On the 1st Jupiter is just under four hand-spans from the eastern horizon an hour and a half after sunset. On the 15th Jupiter is just under seven hand-spans from the north-eastern horizon an hour and a half after sunset. By the 30th it is just under eight hand-spans from the north-eastern horizon an hour and a half after sunset.

In either binoculars or a telescope Jupiter's Moons are always interesting. See the table below.



Times are ACST, add 30 minutes for AEST and 2.5 hours for AWST. adjust for daylight savings as necessary.
Moons, Sat I= Io, II = Europa, III = Ganymede, IV = Callisto

Jupiter Events from 01 October 2022 to 30 October 2022

Date   Time (LMT)  Sat Event 
2, Oct, 02:21:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
2, Oct, 04:10:00 AM, III,Occultation disappearance
2, Oct, 10:12:00 PM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
4, Oct, 03:27:00 AM, II,Occultation disappearance
4, Oct, 03:59:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
4, Oct, 05:54:00 AM, I,Occultation disappearance
4, Oct, 06:21:00 AM, II,Eclipse reappearance
4, Oct, 11:50:00 PM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
5, Oct, 03:05:00 AM, I,Transit start
5, Oct, 03:17:00 AM, I,Shadow transit start
5, Oct, 05:17:00 AM, I,Transit end
5, Oct, 05:31:00 AM, I,Shadow transit end
5, Oct, 08:29:00 PM, III,Transit end
5, Oct, 09:32:00 PM, III,Shadow transit end
5, Oct, 10:12:00 PM, II,Transit start
5, Oct, 10:38:00 PM, II,Shadow transit start
6, Oct, 12:20:00 AM, I,Occultation disappearance
6, Oct, 12:39:00 AM, II,Transit end
6, Oct, 01:08:00 AM, II,Shadow transit end
6, Oct, 02:47:00 AM, I,Eclipse reappearance
6, Oct, 05:37:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
6, Oct, 09:30:00 PM, I,Transit start
6, Oct, 09:45:00 PM, I,Shadow transit start
6, Oct, 11:43:00 PM, I,Transit end
7, Oct, 12:00:00 AM, I,Shadow transit end
7, Oct, 01:28:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
7, Oct, 09:15:00 PM, I,Eclipse reappearance
7, Oct, 09:19:00 PM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
9, Oct, 03:06:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
9, Oct, 10:57:00 PM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
11, Oct, 04:44:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
11, Oct, 05:43:00 AM, II,Occultation disappearance
12, Oct, 12:35:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
12, Oct, 04:49:00 AM, I,Transit start
12, Oct, 05:12:00 AM, I,Shadow transit start
12, Oct, 08:27:00 PM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
12, Oct, 09:09:00 PM, III,Transit start
12, Oct, 10:44:00 PM, III,Shadow transit start
12, Oct, 11:47:00 PM, III,Transit end
13, Oct, 12:26:00 AM, II,Transit start
13, Oct, 01:13:00 AM, II,Shadow transit start
13, Oct, 01:33:00 AM, III,Shadow transit end
13, Oct, 02:04:00 AM, I,Occultation disappearance
13, Oct, 02:53:00 AM, II,Transit end
13, Oct, 03:44:00 AM, II,Shadow transit end
13, Oct, 04:41:00 AM, I,Eclipse reappearance
13, Oct, 11:15:00 PM, I,Transit start
13, Oct, 11:41:00 PM, I,Shadow transit start
14, Oct, 01:28:00 AM, I,Transit end
14, Oct, 01:55:00 AM, I,Shadow transit end
14, Oct, 02:13:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
14, Oct, 08:30:00 PM, I,Occultation disappearance
14, Oct, 10:05:00 PM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
14, Oct, 10:19:00 PM, II,Eclipse reappearance
14, Oct, 11:10:00 PM, I,Eclipse reappearance
15, Oct, 08:23:00 PM, I,Shadow transit end
16, Oct, 03:52:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
16, Oct, 11:43:00 PM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
18, Oct, 05:30:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
19, Oct, 01:21:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
19, Oct, 09:12:00 PM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
20, Oct, 12:28:00 AM, III,Transit start
20, Oct, 02:40:00 AM, II,Transit start
20, Oct, 02:48:00 AM, III,Shadow transit start
20, Oct, 03:09:00 AM, III,Transit end
20, Oct, 03:48:00 AM, II,Shadow transit start
20, Oct, 03:48:00 AM, I,Occultation disappearance
20, Oct, 05:08:00 AM, II,Transit end
20, Oct, 05:35:00 AM, III,Shadow transit end
21, Oct, 01:00:00 AM, I,Transit start
21, Oct, 01:37:00 AM, I,Shadow transit start
21, Oct, 02:59:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
21, Oct, 03:13:00 AM, I,Transit end
21, Oct, 03:50:00 AM, I,Shadow transit end
21, Oct, 09:08:00 PM, II,Occultation disappearance
21, Oct, 10:15:00 PM, I,Occultation disappearance
21, Oct, 10:50:00 PM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
22, Oct, 12:57:00 AM, II,Eclipse reappearance
22, Oct, 01:05:00 AM, I,Eclipse reappearance
22, Oct, 08:05:00 PM, I,Shadow transit start
22, Oct, 09:40:00 PM, I,Transit end
22, Oct, 10:19:00 PM, I,Shadow transit end
23, Oct, 04:37:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
24, Oct, 12:28:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
24, Oct, 08:20:00 PM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
26, Oct, 02:07:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
26, Oct, 09:58:00 PM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
27, Oct, 03:50:00 AM, III,Transit start
27, Oct, 04:57:00 AM, II,Transit start
27, Oct, 05:33:00 AM, I,Occultation disappearance
28, Oct, 02:46:00 AM, I,Transit start
28, Oct, 03:32:00 AM, I,Shadow transit start
28, Oct, 03:45:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
28, Oct, 05:00:00 AM, I,Transit end
28, Oct, 05:46:00 AM, I,Shadow transit end
28, Oct, 11:28:00 PM, II,Occultation disappearance
28, Oct, 11:36:00 PM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
29, Oct, 12:00:00 AM, I,Occultation disappearance
29, Oct, 03:00:00 AM, I,Eclipse reappearance
29, Oct, 03:35:00 AM, II,Eclipse reappearance
29, Oct, 09:13:00 PM, I,Transit start
29, Oct, 10:02:00 PM, I,Shadow transit start
29, Oct, 11:26:00 PM, I,Transit end
30, Oct, 12:15:00 AM, I,Shadow transit end
30, Oct, 05:23:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
30, Oct, 08:10:00 PM, III,Occultation reappearance
30, Oct, 08:35:00 PM, II,Transit end
30, Oct, 08:42:00 PM, III,Eclipse disappearance
30, Oct, 09:28:00 PM, I,Eclipse reappearance
30, Oct, 10:12:00 PM, II,Shadow transit end
30, Oct, 11:28:00 PM, III,Eclipse reappearance
31, Oct, 01:14:00 AM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit
31, Oct, 09:06:00 PM, n/a,Great Red Spot transit

Saturn is now visible all evening long setting in the Early morning. Saturn was at opposition on the 15th of August and is visible high above the north-eastern sky when the sky is fully dark. Saturn will be high enough for good telescopic observation in the evening and very early morning. Saturn forms a line with delta and gamma Capricorn, coming close to iota Capricornii by the end of the month. On the 5th the waxing Moon is close to Saturn. Oct 9, 17 and 24 sees Titan close to Saturn.

On the 1st Saturn is just under eleven hand-spans above the northern horizon an hour and a half after sunset. On the 15th Saturn is just under twelve hand-spans above the northern horizon an hour and a half after sunset On the 30th Saturn is just under eleven hand-spans above the north-western horizon an hour and a half after sunset.

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Iridium Flares, the International Space Station and other satellites

See this amazing site for images of the space station taken through a telescope.

The Iridium satellites have deorbited, However, other satellites do flares as well (bit more rarely) the visibility of Iridium flares is VERY dependent on observer position, so you need a prediction for your spot within about 30 km. Hence I'm referring you to a web site for predictions rather than doing it myself.


See the International Space Station at your Location. Courtesy of Heavens above. Choose your location from the drop down box

Or type in Your Latitude and Longitude in decimal format eg Darwin is -12.461 130.840 , to find your Lat Long go to this site.
Latitude: Longitude: City Time Zone:
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Meteor showers:

Date        	Meteor Shower       ZHR  Illumination 
10/10/2022	Southern Taurids		5    Full Moon
21/10/2022 Orionids            20    Last Quarter 

The figure ZHR is zenithal hourly rate. This is the number of meteors that a single observer would see per hour if the shower's "point of origin", or radiant, were at the zenith and the sky were dark enough for 6.5-magnitude stars to be visible to the naked eye. Illumination gives an idea of how dark the sky is, the lower the figure, the darker the sky.

morning sky, 3:00 pm

Morning sky facing north-east at 4:00 pm AEDST on 22 November, the Orionid radiant is indicated with a star burst.

The Orionids are a normally worthwhile shower, best seen between 2-4 am, the radiant being just under Betelgueuse, the bright red star in Orion. This year the Full Moon is very close to the radiant and will significantly interfere with viewing and the rates will be very low. The best viewing is the mornings of the 21st to 23rd with the highest rates on the morning of the 23rd, when between 3-5 am under dark skies you should see about a meteor every 4 minutes or so.

Outside of the showers, you can still see sporadic meteors. Rates seen from the Southern Hemisphere are around 4 random meteors being seen per hour during the late morning hours and 1 per hour during the evening. The evening rates will be reduced during the times around the full Moon due to interference by the Moons light.

You can still see sporadic meteors. Rates seen from the Southern Hemisphere are around 5 random meteors being seen per hour during the late morning hours and 2 per hour during the evening. The evening rates will be reduced during the times around the full Moon due to interference by the Moons light.

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Comets:

There are no unaided eye comets visible at the moment.

A list of current comet ephemerides is at the MPC.

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Occultations:

No interesting naked-eye occultations this month.

 


Eclipse:

No significant eclipses this month.

Find local sunrise/sunset and twilight times for your city or location (courtesy of Heavens Above).
Use either the drop down box for the listed cities, or type in your latitude, longitude and city in the boxes below.

Type in Your Latitude and Longitude in decimal format eg -12.461 130.840 , to find your Lat Long go to this site.

Latitude: Longitude: City Time Zone:

 


Variable Stars:

While most stars seem to shine with a constant brightness, there are some that undergo regular, dramatic change in brightness. The classic variables are Mira and Algol. Mira should have reached its maximum on July 16, and now is no longer visible to the unaided eye.

evening sky, 4:08 am

Algol at 4:08 am ACDST on 17 October. Algol is indicated by the circle. Click image to embiggen.

Algol is a classic variable star, but is usually hard to see from the southern hemisphere. Algol is currently only visible in the morning (low on the north-eastern horizon from around midnight). You may need to observe it over a couple of nights to be confident you can see it fade from magnitude 2.1 to magnitude 3.4 (from about as bright as Delta Crucis to about as bright as epislon Crucis, the third and fourth brightest stars of the Southern cross). There are two eclipse visible this month.

Minima Algol (ACDST)
10/17/2022 @ 04:08 am
10/20/2022 @ 00:57 am

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Stars:

evening sky, 10:00 pm

The southern evening sky at 10:00 pm AEST in Melbourne on October 1 (similar views will be seen from other cities at the equivalent local time eg 10:00 pm ACST Adelaide, 9:00 pm AEST Brisbane).

All descriptions here are based on the view from Melbourne at 10.00 pm AEST on 1 October and assumes a fairly level horizon. Starset occurs progressively earlier each day, so these descriptions are valid for 9.00 pm on the 15th and 8.00pm AEST on the 30th Readers from other time zones should see roughly the same views at 10.00 pm local time. Corrections for cities other than Melbourne are given below.

How do I find east, west, north and south?

Facing east, the faint constellation of Erandius, the river, straddles the the horizon and meanders upwards and southwards to where brightest star, Achernar, points to the small Magellanic cloud.

To the left is Cetus, the whale. Beta Ceti is a modestly bright star six hand-spans above the horizon, the rest of Cetus is relatively faint. Mira, Omicron Ceti (O on the maps) is a variable star with a period of about 332 days.

Cetus also hosts a nearby sun like star. Tau Ceti is 11.4 light years away from earth, looking 10 hand-spans up from east and two to the left is magnitude 2 Deneb Kaitos, beta Ceti. Two hand-spans below and slightly to the left is eta Ceti, two hand-spans to the right of eta Ceti, forming a triangle with eta and beta, is Tau Ceti.

Five hand-spans to the left of Cetus is Pisces, a rather nondescript constellation.

Continuing on to the zenith we find bright Fomalhaut, alpha star of Piscis Austrinus. Next to Fomalhaut is Grus, the crane, with a distinctive, battered cross-like shape.

Looking westward from the zenith, about four hand-spans down and three to the right is the battered triangle of Capricornius, the Water Goat. Of interest as well is alpha Capricorni, the brightish star at top left hand corner of the triangle that is Capricorn. This is a naked eye double star.

About mid-sky, directly west is the distinctive "teapot" shape of Sagittarius, the archer. The "teapot" is upside down, the "spout" is pointing south-west, its "handle" north-east, and its "lid" points down to the right (north-eastern horizon). This constellations panoply of clusters and nebula are still easily seen.

M24, an open cluster about two finger-widths to the right and slightly down from the "lid" of the teapot should be visible to the naked eye, just above this and slightly to the left by about a hand span is a number of open clusters and a patch of luminosity that marks the lagoon nebula. M22, a globular cluster, is close to the lid (between and about a finger-widths left of the two stars that make the bottom of the lid), should be visible as a dim, fuzzy star on a dark night. Between these clusters and the "lid" itself runs the Great Sagittarius Starcloud. The center of our galaxy lies in Sagittarius, and on a dark night, the traceries of the Milky Way and its dust clouds are particularly beautiful. A high definition map of Sagittarius can be found here.

Continuing on west, the rambling constellation of Ophiuchus occupies the space between Sagittarius and the western horizon.

Directly to the left of Ophiuchus the distinctive "hook" shape of Scorpio, the scorpion, stretches down towards the western horizon. Going up from the south-western horizon by about one and a half hand-spans you will see six bright stars forming a T, with the tail of the "T" nearly perpendicular to the horizon and a curved "tail" of stars. The bright red giant star Antares (Alpha Scorpius, the middle star in the three stars forming the tail of the T) is quite prominent. The area around Scorpio is quite rewarding in binoculars, and there is a small but pretty globular cluster about one finger-width above and to the north of Antares (between Antares and the leading star of the tail of the T). It can be hard to see in city conditions, and will be especially difficult to see this close to the horizon. A high definition map of Scorpio is here. Just before the point where the tail curves around is a series of star clusters that make up the so-called false comet. The illusion of a comet is quite strong in small binoculars as well, but in stronger binoculars the clusters are quite clear.

Returning to the Zenith and working towards the northern horizon. 6 hand-spans down from the zenith is the faint but rambling constellation of Aquarius.

12 hand-spans down from the Zenith (and six above the northern horizon) is the start of the constellation Pegasus, the winged horse. The distinctive box shape of the main constellation lies around three hand-spans to the right of due north.

At the same level as Pegasus, but seven hand-spans to the left is the three bright stars that mark Aquila, the Eagle, with the brightest, white Altair, being in the center.

Continuing down towards the northern horizon, the next bright star is just a hand-span above the horizon, and three hand-spans to the left of due north. This is Deneb, alpha star of Cygnus, the swan. The rest of the constellation forms a wide but distinctive inverted cross above Deneb with the long axis pointing west, almost parallel to the horizon.

Now return to the zenith and go South. Directly south below Grus brings you to the edge of the dim constellation of Tucana, the Toucan. About four hand-spans below the zenith, directly on due north, is Alpha Tucana. Just below Tucana and about a hand-span and a half to the left is the Small Magellanic cloud, the second largest of the dwarf satellite galaxies to the Milky Way. This feature is best viewed on a dark night, away from the city. In this nebulosity is what looks to be a fuzzy star, this is 47 Tucana (marked 104 on the map), a spectacular globular cluster that is very nice through binoculars.

To the right of alpha Tucana by around three hand-spans is Peacock, alpha Pavonis, is a reasonably bright magnitude 2 star that heads the large, but dim, constellation of Pavo the Peacock. Delta Pavonis, about two hand-spans below and one to the left of alpha Pavonis, is one of the handful of sun-like stars within 20 light years of Earth that might have terrestrial planets in its habitable zone.

To the right of and some what below Delta Pavonis by about 4 hand-spans is the boxy shape of Ara, the Altar.

To the left of alpha Tucana by 5 hand-spans is Ankaa, alpha Phoenicis, of the constellation of the Phoenix, another relatively nondescript constellation.

To the left of alpha Tucana by 5 hand-spans and down by about one is bright Achernar, alpha Erandius.

Continuing directly down from alpha Tucana by four hand-spans is Octans, the octant (a navigating instrument the was the forerunner of the sextant). Octans houses the south celestial pole, and the faint Sigma Octanis, the South Polar star, which is the southern equivalent of Polaris. At magnitude 5.5 you will be stretched to see it under city conditions, but it is six hand-spans directly below alpha Tucana, forming the apex of an inverted triangle with two other faint stars (tau and chi Octanis).

Directly below Octans by around three hand-spans is the faint Chameleon, a narrow "kite" of four stars with the long axis parallel to the horizon. To the left of Chameleon by a little over 3 hand-spans is the extended nebulosity of the Large Magellanic cloud, the largest of the dwarf satellite galaxies. Binoculars will reveal a rather attractive nebula near it, the Tarantula nebula.

To the right of Chameleon by around five hand-spans are the bright, distinctive alpha and beta Centauri, the so called "pointers", 4 hand-spans from the south-west horizon, with alpha being the yellow star which is furthest from the horizon, and beta the blue white star below. Between these stars and Chameleon lies the faint constellation Musca the fly. Between the pointers and Pavo lie the dim triangular constellations of Triangulum and Circinus (the compass). Most of the rest of Centarus, the Centaur, is too close to, or below, the Horizon to be seen properly.

Alpha Centauri is the closest star to our sun at around 4 light years. However, recent measurements with the Hippacaros satellite put the system 300 million kilometers further away than previously thought. Alpha centauri is actually a triple star, consisting of two sun-like stars and a red dwarf, Proxima centauri, which is the closest of the triple stars to earth.

Returning to alpha Centauri, following a line south through the "pointers" brings you to the Southern Cross, two hand-spans below and to the left the pointers (one and a half hand-spans from beta Centauri to beta Crucis) and two hand-spans above the horizon at about the 5 o'clock position on a clock. A high definition map of Centaurus and Crux is here.

The Southern Cross is, as expected, a cross shaped formation with Acrux (alpha Crucis) and gamma Crucis forming the long axis of the cross (pointing down to the south-west, with bright Acrux on the end of the axis away from the horizon). Beta and delta Crucis, now nearly horizontal, form the cross piece of the cross. Just to the right Acrux is the coal sack. This dark area against the glow of the milky way represents a large dust cloud and is usually clearly visible in dark skies, but will be hard to see this close to the horizon. The Jewel box in the Cross is a small open cluster just above Beta Crucis. It is quite beautiful, but requires strong binoculars or a small telescope to see properly.

Just on the southern horizon, almost due south is Carina (the keel of the former constellation Argo Navis). Its position makes viewing the many spectacular clusters in this constellation difficult or impossible. However, bright Canopus is now two hand-spans from the south-eastern horizon, almost directly below the large Magellanic cloud, and will continue to rise in the following weeks

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Sky Maps

How to use the maps

      map viewsky view

Comparison of a section of a skymap showing the Southern Cross (Crux) and pointers, with the appearance of the night sky. The map and sky are for May 1 at 10.00 pm, facing south. Both show approximately 30 degrees (5 hand-spans) of sky just above the horizon

The maps look a little busy, as they cover all sky from horizon to zenith. The grid lines are navigational helpers; each horizontal or vertical line covers 30 degrees of arc (the gridlines in the illustration show 15 degrees of arc), which is roughly five hand-spans (where a hand-span is the width of your hand, held flat light a "stop" sign at arms length). As you can see from the way the lines bunch up. The map is a little distorted, due to trying to project a spherical surface on a flat surface. The horizon is the lowest curved line on the map (for technical software reasons I can't block things out below the Horizon). Constellations are linked by lines and their names are in italics. Stars are shown as circles of varying size, the bigger the circle the brighter the star. The stars are named with their Bayer letter (eg a - alpha, the brightest star in a constellation, a Crucis is the brightest star in Crux). Variable stars are shown as hollow circles, double stars are marked with a line (eg a, b and g Crucis are all double stars, that look quite beautiful in a small telescope). Clusters and Nebula brighter than magnitude 6.0 are marked as broken circles (eg. the Jewel box cluster next to b Crucis above which is best viewed in binoculars or a telescope) and squares respectively. To find Crux for example, locate Crux on the appropriate map (eg. see the illustration above). Holding the Map, face either east or west (depending on the map), then use the grid lines to determine how far over and up you should look, then look for the Crux pattern in that part of the Sky.

PNG Maps

A view of the Eastern October sky at 10.00pm AEST on 1 October can be downloaded here (octsky_e.png 30 Kb) and a view of the western October sky can be downloaded here (octsky_w.png 30 Kb). These are more compact files but don't have a lot of resolution.

PDF Maps

High Resolution PDF files can be obtained for the eastern (110 Kb) and the western (110 Kb) horizon maps.

The Zenith Map (110 Kb) shows you the whole sky. You will need to face the one of the compass points, then hold the map with the appropriate compass point on the map at the bottom of the page.

You will need a PDF viewer such as Adobe Acrobat or GhostView to view and print them. They look slightly worse on-screen than the PNG files, but print much better and come with legends.

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[ December Skies] [ February Skies] [ March Skies] [ April Skies] [ May Skies] [ June Skies] [ July Skies] [ August Skies]
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Cheers! And good star gazing!


updated

Ian's Astrophotography Gallery

Some of the photographs/images I have taken in recent years of astronomical phenomena that may be of interest.

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Links

Societies: Australian Resources: Australian Planetariums: updated Astronomy for Kids International Resources: Stunning sites: Useful programs:
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Charts, Books and Software for Astronomy

Stellarium, the free photorealistic sky chart that I use for my general charts, is now available in a web version, it is not as versatile as the desktop version, but handy if you are out and about. it Runs under a variety of browsers on standard PC's, Chromebooks and iPads. https://stellarium-web.org/

The is also a mobile Stellarium version, but it costs money (around $13, not much, but still).

If you would like to have charts available all the time, rather than relying on mine, for between $2-$20 you can pick up a planisphere from a newsagent or bookshop (or for a bit more you can get fancy ones from Australian Geographic, the ABC shop or the other Australian Geographic look alike shop, or the Wilderness Society, or even a binocular/ optical store). The planisphere won't give you position of the planets, so you will need to get the planet rise/set times. These can be found in most serious newspapers (the Age, the Australian, SMH etc. The Australian is probably the best bet for budding amateurs). The combination of planisphere and rise/set times is the best value for beginners though, if you are not too worried about identifying star clusters in your binoculars.

Touring the Universe through Binoculars Atlas is now freeware http://www.philharrington.net/tuba.htm it can print observing charts, but has a few annoying quirks. These include having no horizon line, and moving about is a bit irritating.

I use a combination of a 1962 star chart, the Australian Astronomy 2022 almanac and SkyMap Pro 11.0 . I highly recommend the Australian Astronomy 2022 almanac. It is more helpful for planetary/comet/asteroidal observations and eclipses than for double stars, clusters galaxies etc, but is an excellent resource for Australian observers and anyone who would like to seriously follow the planets in Australia should have this almanac. It has easy to follow month-by-month summary information, as well as detailed charts, tables and whole sky maps. It is easily navigated. The Almanac is often in big bookstores or optical shops, or email info@quasarastronomy.com.au to purchase a copy directly for those outside major population centres. The Australian Astronomy almanac comes out in around November for the following year, and is now approx $30.

Sky and Telescope now also do an Australian version of their magazine.

For detailed chart drawing and timing of events, as well as satellite track predictions I feed the information from the almanac into the SkyMap Pro 11.0, planetarium program. This is a very handy program which prints maps of every possible orientation and scale. The maps on this page are produced by SkyMap. An update to SkyMap 12.0 which handles Windows 10 is now available, If anyone does still wish to buy a copy of SkyMap Pro 12, please email Chris Marriott at "skymap62@gmail.com".

A shareware version of SkyMap that runs on windows 3.x, and win95 can be found here http://www.winsite.com/info/pc/win3/desktop/skymp21a.zip this is approximately 640 Kb zipped.

A shareware version of the win95 only version 5.0 is here http://www.download.net.au/cgi-bin/dl?13607

Other highly recommended Sky charting packages (win95/98/2000/XP/Win7-10 sorry) are:
Cartes du Ciel at https://www.ap-i.net/skychart//en/start (FREE) a bit messy to install but very good.
Stellarium at
http://stellarium.sourceforge.net/ (FREE) stunning photorealistic program, but requires a grunty PC.
Celestron Sky Portal https://www.celestron.com/pages/skyportal-mobile-app is a good free mobile phone/tablet app
Sky Safari https://skysafariastronomy.com/ is another nice mobile astronomy app, but the Apple app store want to sell me Skysafari 6 rather than the freeware Sky Safari 5 (currently available on Google play).
TheSkyVarious packages from $49 US to $249 US
Stary Night various versions from $50 US for the basic pack (10 day trial of the basic pack at http://www.siennasoft.com/english/downloads.shtml) up to eye watering $250 USD versions.
Earth Centered Universe $88 AUD (shareware version at http://www.nova-astro.com/)
On the other hand a standard Sky Atlas for serious observing (much handier than carting a computer with you) such as Norton's Star Atlas can range from $35 to $90.

In these days of hand-held devices (smart phones and tablets), there is a plethora of sky charting apps you can take into the field with you. I use GoogleSky for android and a cut down version of Stellarium for iPad, my most used hand-held app is Heavens Above for Android, for watching ISS passes. This is one app that has changed my astronomical life. There are many more, many free or less than 1 AUD to download. Celestron has a great free planetarium app (although big at 154 Mb) for Android, iPhone and iPad, SkyPortal (see links above).

This is not meant to be a product endorsement of any kind (outside of the Australian Astronomy 2022 almanac. For any budding astronomers out there, it is fantastic value and no, I don't have any commercial interest in it, but I did win bronze in their website Olympics).

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Link to the Lab's 'In Space' gateway Link to the Lab's home page
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This page is provided by Ian Musgrave and is © copyright 2022 Ian Musgrave, except the "Southern Sky Watch" logo, as well as any other ABC logo used on this page, is © copyright of the ABC. Sky maps are generated with SkyMap Pro 11.0 .

This page can be used freely for any non-commercial purpose but please attribute it correctly. However, see the disclaimer.

* Email: reynella@internode.on.net e-mail Ian with any suggestions
Created: Wednesday, 1 April 1998, 11:22:13 PM
Last Updated: Sunday, 4 October, 2022, 11:30:13 PM


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