What's in the night sky from 3 to 9 October 2022.


Chris Bramley Hello and welcome to Star Diary, the podcast from the makers of BBC Sky at night Magazine. You can subscribe to the print edition of the magazine by visiting www.skyatnightmagazine.com or digital edition by visiting on iTunes or Google Play.

Ezzy Pearson Greetings listeners and welcome to Star Diary, a weekly guide to the best things to see in the Northern Hemisphere's Night Sky. In this episode, we'll be covering the coming week from 3rd October to 9th October. I'm Ezzy Pearson, the magazine's features editor, and I'm joined on the podcast today by reviews editor Paul Money. Hello, Paul.

Paul Money Hello there Ezzy. This is going to be a good week for the Moon, you know.

Ezzy Oh, another good week, because we did have a good one last week as well. So what are your recommendations for this week?

Paul Well, this week, the first quarter moon occurs actually in Sagittarius. And we mentioned last week about the ecliptic being low. This is sort of the point whereby it's in the south at around about 8:00. So you can see the first quarter moon and this is actually on 3rd October. So just at the start of the week itself, I say first quarter is one of those quirks that, you know, it's very, very simple to think that it always happens exactly for just us, but we have to think we were on a world. So actually, the true point of the first quarter was earlier in the day. So when we see it, by the time it gets around to the evening, it's slightly more than a half phase because first quarter always suggests it's got to be half phase isn't it. So it's slightly more than that in actual fact, but there's lots of features to see on the Moon. You've got the various basins anyway. You're beginning to see Mare Imbrium, the huge basin actually on the Moon. We see about half of it at the moment on this particular night and we've got the Sea of Serenity. Of course we've got tranquillity where of course the Apollo astronauts landed as well. And we've actually got a lot of the craters in the southern hemisphere becoming available to view. So if you've got a small telescope, the Moon is absolutely full of detail to use. You know, if you're a beginner, I always think the Moon... the Moon and Saturn those are the two are really my my first memories of looking at the moment in Saturn and being absolutely blown away. And I think that's common with a lot of amateur astronomers when the first views were usually of the moon and Saturn, sort of thing, you know, and Saturn with its rings, but seeing the craters on the moon, the actual real craters. So there's lots in the southern hemisphere, it's a lot more cratered in the southern hemisphere. So they're becoming available now. And it is interesting because NASA's recently announced something, I think it was last month, that they're actually now looking at site for landing.

Ezzy Yeah.

Paul To take place in the southern and south polar regions. So when you're looking at that south polar region, you're you're looking possibly in the historic landing sites of the next missions. And that will be exciting, won't it?

Ezzy They've announced 13 potential landing sites across the South Pole of the moon because this is the place where they think it's most likely to be able to find some form of water on the Moon because there's some craters down there that never quite see the light of the sun. And they think that, well, there's been hints that there's water ice down there, but whatever happens, probably provided it goes ahead Artemis III will be landing at the Lunar South Pole.

Paul I'm quite excited to know. I mean...

Ezzy The first woman on the Moon will walk across the South pole.

Paul About blooming time as well. Now, the thing about the Moon is, when is that this phase, it's waxing towards full. That's what we call waxing. So it's getting bigger in the actual phase itself. And it does slowly climb higher up the ecliptic. It actually forms a triangle with Saturn and Vesta on 5th (Oct). So two nights later we're talking about 8:00pm. So a nice, convenient time. No setting an alarm clock for this one. We just go outside and there hopefully it is. I mean, obviously the moon is so bright. You shouldn't be... if you can't see the moon it's got to be cloudy. Either that or you've got hills or buildings in the way sort of thing. So, you know, but it's one of those things. Now, the thing about this is that we've got Saturn and we got Vesta, and Vesta does need binoculars or a small telescope, but it's nice to see we've got three planetary bodies reasonably accessible to view the Moon. Easy naked eye, Saturn, naked eye, and with a telescope as well. And then as say Vesta as well.

Ezzy And three completely different planetary bodies. You've got a planet, a moon and an asteroid in there.

Paul Yeah, exactly. So you can study three different types of thing in one go sort of thing. Yeah. But I'd say you will need binoculars or a telescope for Vesta. Vesta yourself is not too bad a magnitude, it's plus 6.5. So that's sort of, you know, bordering on what some call naked eye, you know, nowadays with my glasses, I think are need somewhat brighter than that. So I won't be able to see it. Saturn's magnitude +0.5. But the Moon, while it's bound to be bright is -11.6 because it's so bright and of course, big as well. But this is a chance to look the down, have a look at Vesta and see Saturn as well. I always like it when the Moon lines up with these things because it's a guide. Then we wait another two or three days. We're talking about 8th October and the Moon is getting towards full. It's not quite full. Its past Neptune and it'll actually lie below Jupiter. So we just mentioned Jupiter and this is an interesting thing is that we're sort of like a week or so from... Probably about a week, ten days from the opposition of Jupiter. And the point about this is that this is why it's getting close to full sort of thing, because the moon is full when it's at opposition. Yes. We don't think about that. We never really we we never use the term opposition for the Moon. But that's technically what's happening is opposite the sun in the sky, it is fully illuminated. So, you know, you know, you're getting close to that time, when the full moon is getting closer to the position of, say, a planet that's under opposition as well. So, you know, the full moon has to occur virtually the same time. So we're very close. We're only a few days off from that. But on 9th Oct, if we always like a challenge, don't we?

Ezzy Yeah.

Paul We're always throwing up challenges as such. You need to be in the morning sky. We're talking about 4 a.m.. I know, I know it's early, but, you know, it's one of those things that I mean, you've got the glories of the the winter sky up by then. you've got Orion up and you've got Canis Major. And the thing about Canis Major is we've got Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, I should say the night sky. If we say the sky someone is lying on the sun is the brightest thing. But Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky in both hemispheres. And so what we've got though is got the minor world Pallas. Now Pallas is faint again, it's a bit like Ceres. It's 8.8 so it is quite faint. But it is interesting to compare it with this incredibly bright star -1.45 for Sirius and so Pallas over the next few nights of the 8th, 9th, and then into next week is passing Sirius. And again, if you've never found this minor world, if you want to tick it off, you never actually bother looking for it. Then when it's next to a really bright star, this is the time that it helps find it for you. You can home in on the right region. So you need some large binoculars, small telescope that'll be best for it as such. Well, on the ninth, the Moon is actually full. And I love it when you watch the full M... If you've got a clear eastern horizon to watch the Moon rise, it starts off, of course, slightly distorted, right on the horizon and it's red, and then it gradually turns orange and then it gets high and it's pale lemon and then gradually goes back to its silvery white colour. And I love it when it's low down though, because if it coincides just at the right time, you can catch the belt of Venus behind it. So you actually get this gorgeous yellowy orange moon. I remember taking a picture many years ago sort of thing, and I gave a talk in Wales and I was summertime and as I was heading back I was literally driving towards the Moon and I had to find a layby and stop because there was this gorgeous picture of the Moon, but it was in the belt of Venus, and this belt of Venus is basically Earth's shadow. And, you know, the red sunsets, all it's the red sunset, but the scattering of the light in the atmosphere, and we see it gradually rising higher, but then it currently fades, so it's more concentrated, lower down. And when you see the Moon against that as well, it's absolutely gorgeous. And it is known as the belt of Venus, although technically Venus can't actually be in it because its –

Ezzy That's true!

Paul – the opposite end of the sky. Sky in Venus is an interior planet.

Ezzy Our listeners might not be 100 per cent familiar with the term belt of Venus, but you've probably have seen it maybe when you've been on holiday or just taking time to look at the sunset. If you seen a particularly nice one, you might have seen it.

Paul Because quite pronounced when you see the darkness below, which is the Earth's shadow sort of thing as well, but that of course rapidly rises high and it swamps the belt of Venus. But he's prominent when it's low down, but he's quite pretty. So I'll bet everybody's seen it without realising, you know, you looked at it and not even thought about it because you don't think about that sort of thing, unless you know about it. Well I say, a full Moon, rising amongst it is absolutely, I think it's absolutely gorgeous. So that's a nice way to cap off the full Moon. I normally don't recommend the full Moon myself. I'm a deep sky observer, you know, the Moon gets in the way when it's full. But there are features. There are features on the Moon, you've got the rays, etc. and you go, you see the basins, can't you as well? And then I say you can actually see the I love it when it rises and it changes like colours. You watch it rise and as such I keep promise myself one day I'll do a sequence of pictures, catching it, but I'll never get round to it. You never get round. When I think about it, it's cloudy. It's always the case.

Ezzy It's the problem. When you're, you know, area of interest is the entire Universe. There's quite a lot of it, but it does mean there's never a shortage of things to look at. Now, one thing that's also happening on the 9th is that it's. I believe it's the peak of the Draconid's meteor shower, but I understand it might not be a great year to see that.

Paul No, I mean, again, with it happening on full Moon, I mean, the full Moon will drown. I mean, it's not a big shower. So, you know, you're talking about just a few meteors per hour. But the trouble is, you know, if it's like that, then the Moon was going to completely ruin them. So it will I mean, the weak in the first place. But to have the full Moon as well really doesn't help. So, you know, it's a shame, but I mean, it doesn't always happen like that. And then some years they are good. And it's always worth looking out. You know, I get the odd, bright one. It isn't impossible to see them during full Moon, but it diminishes the amount of meteors you can actually see. And I'm afraid.

Ezzy It is unfortunate sometimes, you know, the Solar System conspires against us to deny meteor showers.

Paul Oh, it does.

Ezzy But they come along relatively regularly. There's one every few months and there's some fairly good ones up twice a year. So hopefully the next one will be better for viewing. But thank you very much for taking the time out of your week, Paul, to tell us all about what we can see in the coming week. So to recap, we've got the first quarter moon in Sagittarius at the beginning of the week, which would be a great opportunity to see some of the craters around the Southern Pole. And just a little teaser here. If you are interested in some of the craters and features that you can see on the moon, you might want to keep an eye out for the November issue of Sky at Night magazine, which goes on sale on 20th October. We've also got another naked eye thing to see on 5th with Saturn investor forming a triangle with the moon, and then on the eighth the full moon will have Jupiter below it. And also, if you fancy something a little bit more challenging on the eighth, you can see the asteroid Palas as it glides beside Sirius. So hopefully they'll be something there that you guys can all take a chance to go and see. And if you want to keep up to date with all of the best things to see in the night sky every week, be sure to subscribe to the podcast, Star Diary podcast and we'll hope to see you here next week if you want to find out even more spectacular sites that will be gracing the night sky throughout the month. Be sure to pick up a copy of BBC Sky at Night Magazine. Well, we have a 16 page pull out Sky Guide with a full overview of everything worth looking up for. Whether you like to look at the moon, the planets, or the deep sky, whether you use binoculars, telescopes or neither, are sky guide has got you covered with the detailed star charts to help you track your way across the night sky from all of us here at BBC Sky at Night Magazine. Goodbye.


Chris Bramley Thank you for listening to this episode of The Start, our podcast from the makers of BBC Scotland Magazine. For more of our podcasts, visit our website at www.skyatnightmagazine.com or head to aCast, iTunes or Spotify.


Elizabeth Pearson
Ezzy PearsonScience journalist

Ezzy Pearson is the Features Editor of BBC Sky at Night Magazine. Her first book about the history of robotic planetary landers is out now from The History Press.