Sky Report by Ted Gruber
Venus is visible low in the west-southwestern sky just after sunset through very early October. It lies about 5° to 10° above the horizon and is visible for only about 30 minutes after sunset. Venus reaches its peak magnitude of -4.8 on September 21. The planet returns to the morning sky in early November.
Jupiter (magnitude -1.8) is visible in the southwestern sky at dusk. It now remains visible for about two hours after sunset, and for about an hour after sunset in mid-October.
Saturn (magnitude 0.5) appears about 25° above the south-southwest horizon as darkness falls. It remains visible until it sets in the southwest about four hours past sunset. The moon passes 1.8° north of Saturn about 8:00pm on October 14.
Mars (magnitude -1.0) is visible in the southeastern sky at dusk and remains visible until it sets in the southwest around 1:00am. The moon passes 5° north of Mars just past midnight on September 20 (the night of September 19-20).
Orionid Meteor Shower
The Orionids are active from October 2 through November 7, peaking during the early morning hours of October 21. Most predictions call for a peak rate of 20 meteors per hour. However, the Orionids produced 50-75 meteors per hour at their peak from 2006-2009, and there are theories this repeats in a 12-year cycle.
Full (9/24), last (10/2), new (10/8), first (10/16), full (10/24), last (10/31).
Messier of the Month – M27 (Dumbbell Nebula)
M27, better known as the Dumbbell Nebula, is a planetary nebula in Vulpecula. It was the first planetary nebula discovered (Messier, 1764) and is the brightest of the four planetary nebulae in the Messier catalog. At magnitude 7.5, it is the second brightest planetary nebula overall, behind only the Helix Nebula. M27 is 1,360 light years distant, and its estimated age ranges from 9,800 to 14,600 years. Through binoculars, M27 appears as a smudge of gray light.
Friends of Galileo
We are astronomy enthusiasts who love to learn and to share our wonder at the amazing sights right overhead.