In the Sky This Month

Witchy Cat Graphics & Comments

In the Sky This Month

A giant mythological soap opera stretches up the eastern half of the sky on October nights, encompassing five major constellations: Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Cepheus, Cetus, and Perseus. In the tale, Cassiopeia, queen of Ethiopia, claimed that she was more beautiful than the sea nymphs. The nymphs complained to the god Poseidon, who sent the sea monster Cetus to ravage the country. To save his people, King Cepheus chained his daughter Andromeda at the seashore as a sacrifice. At the last second, though, she was rescued by Perseus, who flashed the snake-topped head of Medusa at Cetus, turning the monster to stone.

October 10: Messier 30

A cluster from another galaxy scoots across the south on October evenings. Messier 30, in the lower left corner of Capricornus, is a family of hundreds of thousands of stars. They probably came from another galaxy, which was consumed by the Milky Way.

October 11: Moon and Jupiter

Brilliant Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, lines up below the Moon in early evening. It looks like a brilliant star, with a bit of a creamy color.

October 12: Andromeda Galaxies

The Andromeda galaxy is in the east-northeast at nightfall. Under dark skies, it looks like a smudge of light. It’s a family of hundreds of billions of stars. It is 2.5 million light-years away — the farthest object easily visible to the eye alone.

October 13: Telling Tails

Deneb Algedi, the tail of the sea-goat, is in the southern sky at nightfall, in the constellation Capricornus. Deneb Algedi is a good bit bigger and hotter than the Sun, and much farther along in life.

October 14: Moon and Saturn

Saturn, the second-largest planet in the solar system, huddles quite close to the Moon tonight. The giant planet looks like a bright golden star to the left of the Moon.

October 15: Collision Zones

Auriga, the charioteer, climbs into view in the northeast by about 9 p.m. It’s marked by yellow-orange Capella, one of the brightest stars in northern skies.

October 16: Close Visitor

A space rock the size of a building will buzz near Earth tomorrow, although there is no risk of it hitting us. Asteroid 2014 US7 will miss Earth by about 750,000 miles, which is three times the distance to the Moon.