Friday, January 27, 2006

October 5, 2000

There is no excuse not to stargaze this month, as the dark of evening becomes inescapable, for better or worse, even as you leave your work place. The sun sets almost two hours earlier by the end of October than at the beginning, thanks both to the seasonal shortening of the days and to the return of Standard Time on the 29th.

The big show is provided by the giant planets, Jupiter and Saturn. They are visible as both morning and evening "stars," rising in the east a few hours after sunset and still shining in the southwest before dawn.

Jupiter is the scene-stealer, best seen blazing in the southeast before midnight. Saturn is then to its upper right.

If you're not sure of their identification, watch the moon play roulette with them. On the 15th the moon will be just to the right of Saturn; on the 16th it will be just below Jupiter, and also to the left of the bright, reddish star Aldebaran, which forms a striking isosceles triangle with the planets all month.

In fact, these three will dance with one another right through to spring, so keep watching!

A lovely sight at dusk on the 30th will be the crescent moon, bright Venus, and red Antares, all in a line sinking into the southwest.

Witches won't be able to navigate by the full moon this Hallowe'en, as the new moon comes on the 27th.

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