October Astronomical Update

As the nights get longer and cooler weather settles in, the next couple of weeks are perfect for checking out the night sky.

Tony Rice, an engineer with Cisco, also serves as a NASA ambassador, and he has compiled some great astronomical information. I thought you might like to read some of the October highlights for the Omaha area  that he recently shared with me. 

 

Highlights

  • Uranus reaches opposition the evening of Thursday, October 19. This is the position in its orbit when the planet is exactly opposite of the sun in our sky. Like a full moon, the planet will rise at sunset, reach the highest point in the sky around 1am local and set around sunrise.
  • In very very dark locations, you might be able to spot Uranus with the naked eye. Look in the ESE for a V formed by the constellation Pisces, Uranus is just up and to the right of the slightly brighter star Omicron Piscium, the first star from the bottom of the left side of that V. In areas with more light pollution, a pair of binoculars should bring Uranus into view.
  • Thu, Oct 19, 14:12:03: new moon

Keep an Eye out

 Orionid meteors in the predawn hours, by Saturday you could see up to 20 per hour

Planet visibility

body (phase)

rise

 

set

 

Mercury (98%)

08:05:42

 

- 18:55:09

 

Venus (93%)

05:51:01

 

- 17:59:11

 

Moon (8%)

04:11:05

 

- 17:28:42

 

Mars

05:18:39

 

- 17:41:57

 

Saturn

12:34:09

 

- 21:55:24

 

Jupiter

08:17:21

 

- 19:03:53

 

Sample rise/set times for 10/16/17

Satellite passes

International Space Station (ISS)

  • fair pass begins Sun 2017-10-29 07:54:18 from the SSW (201°) reaches 32°, lasts 6 minutes

Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

no visible HST passes predicted during this period

See Heavens Above[heavens-above.com] for the latest pass predictions. Satellite pass gradings are based on altitude reached and duration of pass. Higher altitude passes are closer to the observer and generally brighter as a result. Satellites other than ISS are much more difficult to spot.

Moon Phases

date

phase

Thu 10-19/14:12:03

  new

Fri 10-27/ 17:22:04

  first quarter

Sat 11-04/ 00:22:55

   full

Fri 11-10/14:36:23

   last quarter

Astronomical Seasons

  • winter solstice: Thu 2017-12-21 10:27

Meteor Showers

Meteor Showers Peaking this period

name

rating

start

peak

end

 

speed (mi/s)

quality

moon at peak

 

Epsilon Geminids

minor

Oct 14

- Oct 18

-Oct 27

 

70

faint

↑ Thu 7:04 AM 10/19/17
0% full
↓Thu 6:53 PM

 

Orionids

moderate

Oct 02

- Oct 21

-Nov 07

 

66

bright

↑ Sun 9:55 AM 10/22/17
4% full
↓Sat 8:02 PM

 

Meteor Showers Underway this period

name

rating

start

peak

end

 

speed (mi/s)

quality

moon at peak

 

Antihelion Source

minor

Sep 10

 

Dec 10

 

30

faint

None

 

Southern Taurids

minor

Sep 10

-Oct 10

-Nov 20

 

27

bright

↑ Tue 10:55 PM 10/10/17
59% full
↓Wed 1:26 PM

 

Orionids

moderate

Oct 02

 -Oct 21

-Nov 07

 

66

bright

↑ Sun 9:55 AM 10/22/17
4% full
↓Sat 8:02 PM

 
                   

Epsilon Geminids

minor

Oct 14

-Oct 18

-Oct 27

 

70

faint

↑ Thu 7:04 AM 10/19/17
0% full
↓Thu 6:53 PM

 

Leo Minorids

minor

Oct 19

-Oct 24

-Oct 27

 

62

faint

↑ Wed 12:31 PM 10/25/17
24% full
↓Tue 10:04 PM

 

Northern Taurids

minor

Oct 20

-Nov 12

-Dec 10

 

29

bright

↑ Mon 1:58 AM 11/13/17
20% full
↓Mon 2:50 PM

 

Next Major Meteor Showers

name

rating

start

peak

end

 

speed (mi/s)

quality

moon at peak

 

Geminids

major

Dec 07

Wed Dec 13

-Dec 17

 

35

medium

↑ Thu 3:46 AM 12/14/17
10% full
↓Thu 3:03 PM

 

see: International Meteor Organization calendar[imo.net] for details. 

Aerospace Calendar

Launches

  • Sun 2017-10-15 02:28: An Atlas 5 rocket will launch NROL-52 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, pad SLC-41.

History

  • Oct 17 The magnitude 7.1 "World Series" earthquake hit the San Francisco area. 28 years ago
  • Oct 18 Launch of Ranger 5, an unsuccessful attempt to hard land on the Moon. 55 years ago
  • Oct 18 Launch of STS-34 Space Shuttle Atlantis, on a mission to deploy the Galileo Jupiter spacecraft. 28 years ago
  • Oct 18 Launch of STS-58 Space Shuttle Columbia with a Spacelab Life Sciences mission (SLS- 2) that included the first in-flight blood draws and tissue dissections in U.S. space flight history. Onboard are Commander John E. Blaha, Pilot Richard A. Searfoss, Mission Specialists M. Rhea Seddon, William S. McArthur, Jr., David A. Wolf, Shannon W. Lucid, and Payload Specialist Martin Fettman. 24 years ago
  • Oct 18 Venera 4 made the first controlled descent into the atmosphere of Venus. Communications failed before it reached the surface. 50 years ago
  • Oct 19 Launch of the Interstellar Boundary EXplorer spacecraft (IBEX), via a Pegasus booster, on a mission to observe energetic neutral atoms at the heliopause. 9 years ago
  • Oct 19 Mariner 5 flew by Venus successfully. 50 years ago
  • Oct 21 Discovery of the dwarf planet Eris in the outer reaches of the Kuiper Belt by a team during a Palomar Observatory survey. The discovery was confirmed in January 2005 and at the time Eris was thought to be larger than Pluto which would make Eris the 10th planet in our solar system. However, debate in the scientific community caused the definition of 'planet' to be clarified. As a result, in 2006 the International Astronomical Union (IAU) demoted Pluto as a planet and categorized it and Eris as dwarf planets (or also Plutoids for those icy dwarfs that orbit our sun beyond Neptune). It takes Eris 557 Earth years to complete an orbit around our Sun. Eris has one known moon named Dysnomia. 14 years ago
  • Oct 22 Venera 9 arrived at Venus, successfully returning images after landing safely. 42 years ago
  • Oct 24 Launch of Chang'e 1, China's first robotic lunar orbiter, from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China. Chang'e 1 spent 494 days in space obtaining 3D images of the Moon, analyzing the distribution of surface elements, surveying soil thickness and to evaluate helium-3 resources. Chang'e 1 ended its mission by making a controlled impact to the lunar surface. 10 years ago
  • Oct 24 Launch of the Deep Space 1 spacecraft, the first to use ion propulsion. 19 years ago

Covers Mon 2017-10-16 01:00 through Thu 2017-10-26 01:00 . Calculations are for Omaha, NE (41.2083,-96.0795) at an elevation of 364 m and are expressed in local (America/Chicago) time and a 24-hour clock.

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