Brilliant Venus continues to dominate the early evening sky well above the southwestern horizon. After a close visit with the Moon on the 9th, Venus and the bright star Antares in the constellation Scorpius, have a fairly close encounter on the evening of the 16th. It is worth comparing the brightness as Venus outshines Antares by more than 100 times!
The two gas giants, Saturn and Jupiter, will continue to dominate the evening sky. Saturn, at magnitude +0.5, continues to lead Jupiter by about 15 degrees. Saturn’s rings are still open and present a grand view in a small telescope. Jupiter, shining at a respectable magnitude of -2.6, is well situated for Galilean moon hunting with binoculars or a small to medium-sized telescope.
Mars is still lost to our view but has reached conjunction with the Sun and will appear as an early morning object later this fall. Mercury will put in a fairly short but bright early morning appearance, low in the south-southeastern skies beginning on the 25th. The tiny planet, shining at magnitude -0.7, will rise about an hour and a half before the Sun. This will be Mercury’s best dawn showing of 2021.
The Moon will be new on the 6th, first quarter on the 13th, full on the 20th and last quarter on the 28th. Looking southwest on October 9th, about 45 minutes after sunset, the new crescent Moon will be just above and slightly to the left of brilliant Venus.
Looking to the south-southeast on the 14th and 15th, about 45 minutes after sunset, the waxing gibbous Moon will be just below and about halfway between Saturn on the right and Jupiter on the left. On the 15th the Moon will be below and to the left of Jupiter.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, there will not be a first Saturday star party at the Etscorn Campus Observatory.
New Mexico Tech Astronomy Club