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Night Sky Report


October 1, 2020

When the nights were clear, the viewing for September was pretty good; however, there were a number of nights that even when the clouds dissipated, there was still a thick haze hanging over Oklahoma skies.

This is the result of the smoke generated by the wildfires raging in California and Oregon. The prevailing winds on the west coast pushed the smoke northward into the jet stream, which carried it right over Oklahoma and to the southeast. A number of viewing sessions had to be cancelled and rescheduled because of this situation. Hopefully as we move into October, the jet stream will shift and carry this smoke to the south and leave us with clear skies once again.

Highlights: The evening of the first will see Mercury reach its highest point in the western sky as a Full Moon rises in the eastern sky. The Moon will pass to the south of Mars on the second, will reach apogee (552,476 miles) on the third, and will pass to the south of Uranus on the fourth.

Mars will be at its closest approach to Earth on the evening of the fifth as it comes to within 38.6 million miles. The Moon reaches third quarter on the ninth. On the 13th, Mars reaches opposition (directly opposite from the Sun) and the Moon passes to the north of Venus. New Moon and the Moon reaching perigee (221,775 miles) occur on the 16th. On the 17th, the Moon passes to the north of Mercury. The Orionid Meteor Shower will peak during the overnight from the 20th into the 21st .

Then on the 22nd, the moon will pass first to the south of Jupiter and then to the south of Pluto and finally to the south of Saturn. Third quarter Moon occurs on the 23rd. Mercury reaches inferior conjunction (between the Earth and the Sun) on the 25th. The Moon passes to the south of Neptune on the 27th and to the south of Mars on the 29th. The Moon reaches apogee on the 30th, for the second time this month at 252,522 miles. Uranus reaches opposition on the 31st, this on the same night that the Moon passes to the south of Uranus and reaches Full Moon.

Comets: Comet 88p/Howell should be easily visible with a small telescope as it travels west to east from Scorpio through Sagittarius. Its proximity to the Globular Star Clusters M 19 (on the 4th), NGC6293 (on the 6th), NGC 6355 (on the 9th), and the Open Star Cluster NGC 6520 (on the 19th–20th) should make it fairly easy to locate on those nights.

Planetary Report: The Sun is passing through Virgo. Mercury reaches its highest point in the western sky as it appears to reverse direction while it moves between Virgo and Libra. Venus is passing from Leo into Virgo and is visible in the morning sky. Mars is still in Pisces. Jupiter, Pluto, and Saturn are all still in the eastern reaches of Sagittarius. Uranus is in the northern reaches of Cetus, between Pisces and Taurus. And finally Neptune is in Aquarius.

Meteors: The Orionid Meteor Shower will peak during the overnight form the 20th to the 21st with the actual peak occurring in the early hours of the 21st. The Moon will not be a factor as it sets before midnight and won't interfere with viewing the fainter meteors.

Planet Visibility: Evening hours-Jupiter, Pluto, Saturn, Neptune and Mercury. Overnight hours: Mars and Uranus. Early morning hours: Venus.

Dark Sky viewing starts on the seventh and goes through the 19th with Odyssey Astronomy Club viewing sessions scheduled for the 10th and the 17th.

For information about Ten Acre Observatory, the Odyssey Astronomy Club or to schedule an appointment to come out for a visit, contact us at 405-899-4016 (leave a message) or email us at [email protected] A visit to the observatory and the use of our equipment and facilities is always FREE.


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