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.
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
Sample rise/set times for 10/16/17
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.
Sun 2017-10-15 02:28: An Atlas 5 rocket will launch NROL-52 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, pad SLC-41.
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.