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The Autumn Sky October 9, 2010

Posted by orionrising in Observing.
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These past few days it has been clear out, and so I’ve been going out stargazing during study breaks. The celestial tapestry has changed noticeably, now that we are well into October– as a marker for change I decided to write this section featuring the Autumn sky.

The summer constellations are definitely not as prominent as they were in the summer.  Cygnus, Aquila and Lyra are starting to set in the West, being replaced by Pegasus, Cassieopeia and Cepheus near the Zenith.  The Big Dipper hangs low in the Northern Horizon-I can barely see it, since I don’t have a clear view of the horizon from my vantage point. In the East, many of the constellations associated with late autumn / early winter, such as Perseus, Auriga, and Taurus are beginning to rise.

The prominent constellations now also provide new binocular/naked-eye targets, such as the Double Cluster in Perseus, the Andromeda Galaxy, the infamous temperamental Algol, and numerous other globular clusters and celestial objects (Jupiter is still prominent now, even though it has been a few weeks since its formal opposition; it is still brighter than many stars).  I’m looking forward to finding many of them, and sharing my experience for each.  There is much to look forward to as each new season approaches, and autumn is no exception.

The days are getting noticeably shorter now, along with much cooler temperatures.  The leaves on the canopies of the trees, as a backdrop to the night sky have turned golden yellow. Soon the weather will be frigid, and in return will be the bright beacons of the winter sky; the weather now however is optimal because there are no insects/mosquitoes, and the crisp temperatures are very comfortable. Shorter days also mean there will be earlier chances to stargaze, which will be great.

All in all, autumn is an excellent time to explore the night sky with binoculars (or even with the naked eye). There is much to discover.

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