What's in the night sky of the week of 31 October to 6 November, 2022.


Chris Bramley Hello and welcome to Star Diary, the podcast for the makers of BBC Sky at Night Magazine. You can subscribe to the print magazine by visiting www.skyatnightmagazine.com or to our digital edition by visiting 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 31st October to 6th November. 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 is. Yes, yes. It's nice to look up the night sky once again for another week.

Ezzy Absolutely. But before we get started this week, I just want to put out a little reminder to everyone that the clocks have changed here in the UK. They did that on 30th October. So from now on, we'll be giving all our times in Greenwich Mean Time or UT. However, if you are one of our US listeners, your clocks don't change until 6th November. So just keep that in mind when you're shifting time zones. We don't want anybody to miss out on any of the spectacular sights that we have coming up. Speaking of which... Paul, what are the sites that we can hope to see this week?

Paul Well, we always cover the moon. We have to! Because it dominates the night sky, doesn't it? And we begin this way by keeping an eye on it as it starts off low in the evening sky. Now, the first two nights, to be honest, it is quite low. And so we're looking down towards the light. So a light the towards Scorpius, sorry, Sagittarius into Capricornus. So on the 31st it's just short of half phase and it's low in the south in bright twilight around about 5:30 p.m. So it's always worth keeping an eye on the Moon. Watch the Terminator creep across the lunar landscape night after night and later on in the month. Because you can do it over the hours because you can see it physically creeping. And it makes an interesting photographic task as well to show the terminator slowly creeping across the moon. Remember that sort of thing is like dawn on that part of the lunar surface. So they'll be seeing a wonderful dawn. Very stark, though, with the black sky and the bright sun. So that's the 31st then, with the Moon very low down sort of thing in the evening twilight about 5:30 p.m. On the 1st, it is actually first quarter moon. And the good news is always like it when these events occur and it's next to something bright and it is, it's below Saturn. Now Saturn has been dominating that part of the sky. It's in Capricornus and it's been moving steadily amongst the stars of Capricornus for several months now. And it is well-placed. It's nice when they get into the evening sky. We can all enjoy Saturn. It's not as bright as bright gassy Jupiter. But, you know, Saturn is still there and we've got an extra bonus. We've got minor planet Vesta as well forming a triangle with them. Although you will need binoculars really for Vesta it is actually quite faint. So you know, if you look around about the South at 7 p.m. on November 1st and so you'll easily be out to see the Moon, Saturn will be higher above it and then Vesta to slightly to the upper left. So, you know, it's well worth having a look at. And of course, Saturn with the Rings. I mean, who can't fall in love with Saturn?

Ezzy I think it's it's always nice when you can see three different kinds of Solar System body in the same kind of field of view, because you've got the moon there, which is, as the name might suggest, a Moon. You've got a planet and a minor planet. A minor world or an asteroid. Some people still call Vesta an asteroid. It is technically a minor planet.

Paul Well, asteroid is the old name. I mean, William Herschel came up with asteroid meaning star. So star like. So that was the original definition. I must admit, I still fall into asteroid as well, but yes, nowadays it's whole minor planet or dwarf planet of course as well. But we haven't got that for Vesta and we haven't got Ceres in the sky at the moment to see easily. So there we are. That's the first as such. So we've got Saturn and Vesta and that should the next even in on the 2nd the Moon lies to the left of Saturn and Vesta as well. Now I can imagine all this week basically we've actually got a parade of the planets, to be fair, as a because they're in the evening. I mean, this makes it even easier. We had the parade earlier, a few months back in actual fact, if you remember, in the morning skies and we had the bonus of Venus and Mercury in the morning sky as well, but we've actually got them all in the evening sky except Mercury and Venus, Mercury and Venus, I'm sorry to tell you are too close to the glare of the Sun pretty much all month during November. So, you know, you can forget that. But we have got this parade of planets and it goes from Saturn in Capricornus to Neptune in Aquarius, Jupiter in Pisces, Uranus in Ares and then Mars in Taurus. Now, it literally struck me this morning I was looking at the notes and I suddenly thought. That is one in every consecutive constellation of the zodiac.

Ezzy That's right.

Paul It struck me then. I'd never thought of that. There's one in each constellation of that zodiac at the moment. So it all gets spoilt when Neptune gradually creeps into Pisces and of course, Jupiter wil have moved on as well. But I just thought I was a little one of those ido... idiosyncratic... Chronic things that I'd never even thought about before, but they were actually all spread out amongst separate constellations.

Ezzy And is there a particular time of the evening which is good to see those planets, or will they be visible sort of throughout the entire time.

Paul You really want to? Once you've got evening twilight over, that will allow time for Mars to rise. So I'm looking at 7:00 in the evening onward sort of thing to get a best view of the actual parade itself. And obviously, if you leave it too late, you then find Saturn will be actually getting too low and setting as well. So, yes, so 7:00 to about 10:00n, which is a nice, convenient time for most people, isn't it, for actually observing as long as you have clear skies. And of course, we'll have the moon passing under several of them. We've already had it under Saturn on November 3rd. The Moon lies to the right of Neptune, to the sort of far right of Neptune. But most people will notice it being to the far right of Jupiter because Neptune needs binoculars or a small telescope, whereas Jupiter, while it's dominating the night sky, isn't it, as such? So on the 4th, the Moon will lie below right of Jupiter. So on the fourth we'll all look up and we'll see this bright Moon. And then you'll say, Oh, there's a star that and I always get these. What's that star above it, happens on social media quite a few times. Hey, I've noticed the star above the moon tonight. Anybody know what it is? So I'll thing and I always like it when somebody says, Oh, it's probably Venus. I thought yet they'd just taking a guess. But there are plenty of apps out there, folks, that you can buy computer programmes or even free computer and planetarium programmes that tell you where they are. So you shouldn't be able to get it wrong really. But there we also think so on 4th and the moon is directly to the lower right really of Jupiter. Then on bonfire night for the U.K., of course, on the fifth it lies to the left of the giant planet itself. Now, as I mentioned, Jupiter is actually really well placed in the evenings and it dominates now. There's nothing else. We haven't got Venus to mess about with. There's only the Moon in the Sun brighter on it. So Jupiter dominates, so it's well worth having a look with a telescope. Even with binoculars, some people see the Galilean moons with binoculars quite well, and others find it better to use a telescope. So well worth having a look at them and keep an eye on those four Galilean moons as they actually go around the planet. Meanwhile, don't forget Neptune. I mean, now it is the last technically the last true planet in the Solar System now. We won't get into the ooh-ha about poor Pluto or poor Pluto.

Ezzy Dearly demoted.

Paul If I'd been Clyde Tombaugh I would never trust it as a planet. Very eccentric orbit, it seemed to be completely the opposite of what we expected of a planet, but it was being searched for as a planet. So that was one of those things.

Ezzy So they called it a planet because that's what they were looking for, is basically what happened.

Paul Exactly sort of thing. They found there were in roughly the right area. They expected it in, so it all fell into place. But you know, if we'd have found it today, we'd have never called our planet. It's as simple as that. But Neptune shouldn't be forgotten is tiny. It's about 2.8 seconds across, so seeing features on it is a real challenge. Astrophotographers have picked up some features now, People like Damian Peach and Pete Lawrence, have picked up subtle features, but it is very subtle. And also for Neptune you could always look for Triton. I mean, I imaged Triton. Triton is actually relatively easy in that respect. So, you know, we've got a good range of planets and we've got the moon passing them for this week as well. So really it's a week of planets and the moon itself. So as I say, don't forget Uranus and Mars over on the sort of... well towards the Northeast, Mars is rising sort of thing. So I say we've got this parade of planets. Have a go at that, pick them all out and then we're ready for next week's sky.

Ezzy Now, you did mention that that 5th November is bonfire night here in the UK, otherwise known as fireworks night. And I do know that that sometimes isn't the best night to be getting out and doing astronomy, isn't that right?

Paul Yes. I mean, if you want to get confused with meteors, that's the night to go out and get confused by meteors I've actually had people say to me so that also a plenty on 5th. And I said, well, I wasn't bonfire night. So, you know, it is one of those things. I mean, there are meteor showers we're going to cover soon in next couple of weeks. But in actual fact, there's nothing major going on. It's actually worth remembering though, that there are always sporadic meteors. But yes, sort of thing. But bonfire night, if you've got a bright, brazing bonfire going sort of thing. I prefer the the official events taking place because, you know, there's a lot more safety involved with that. And that's why I prefer them. But there will be a big bonfire and I have to say, the smoke drifting, I... Unless the smoke drifts away from you and come on, let's face it, it's one of those funny quirks of the Universe isn't it that the smoke always drift towards you. Now what do you do? It always drift towards you. So I tend to roll out November 5th unless the smoke is going in the in the different direction. And then my sky is clear and I'm in the area I want to look for. But of course we've got the moon up. So deep sky won't be as good because the Moon's gradually increasing in its phase.

Ezzy But if you are out and about, maybe on your way to or from a fireworks display, you might want to keep an eye out because you probably will at least be able to see the Moon and you might be able to get to catch a glimpse of Jupiter as well. Just perhaps not the best night for getting your telescope out, but thank you very much for that, Paul. It certainly sounds like there's a lot of interesting things to see in the night sky this week. I think the particular highlights were on 1st November where we'll have the Saturn, Vesta and the Moon all together in the night sky. Then on the third to 5th November, we have a bit of another planetary parade going on in the evening sky with Saturn, Neptune, Jupiter and the Moon making their way across the night sky. And Uranus will be there as well. So thank you all very much for joining us today. And if you want to keep up with weekly updates of what's in the night sky, please be sure to subscribe to the podcast and we 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 where we have a 16 page pull out Sky Guide with a full overview of everything worth looking out for. Whether you like to look at the Moon, the planets, or the deep sky, whether you use binoculars, telescopes or neither, our sky guide has got you covered with detailed star charts to help you track your way across the night sky from all of us here at BBC Sky and Night Magazine. Goodbye.


Chris Bramley Thank you for listening to this episode of the Star Diary podcast from the makers of BBC Sky at Night Magazine. For more of them of 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.