Skywatch Line for Wednesday, October 9th, and Thursday, October 10th, 2019

This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Wednesday, October 9th, and Thursday, October 10th, written by Louis Suarato.

The 86% illuminated, waxing gibbous Moon rises at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Look 17 degrees below the Moon for Fomalhaut, the Autumn Star. The Moon will reach apogee, its furthest distance from Earth during this lunar cycle, at 2:29 p.m. Thursday, at the distance of 252,214 miles. The Moon’s orbit around Earth is elliptical. An elliptical orbit is defined as an orbit with an eccentricity of less than, or greater than 0. An eccentricity of 0 would be a perfectly circular orbit. The Moon’s elliptical orbit ranges from a distance of 221,500 miles to Earth to 252,700 miles. , an average of 239,228 miles.

Venus leads Mercury into the west-southwestern horizon, setting at 7 p.m., about a half hour after sunset. Jupiter is next, setting at 9:28 p.m., followed by Saturn, which will set at 11:17 p.m.. After Venus and Mercury have set, the International Space Station will rise out of the west-northwest horizon. This -2.9 magnitude pass will appear at 7:10 p.m., and pass Arcturus at 7:12. The ISS will continue south, passing the Summer Beehive Cluster in Ophiuchus at 7:14. The Space Station continues over Jupiter and Saturn, and past the Wild Duck Cluster in Scutum. The ISS completes its pass through Capricornus before it sails below the Moon before heading into the southeastern horizon.

Mars is making a comeback to the pre-dawn sky, rising at 5:56 a.m., about an hour before sunrise. Mars is currently 99.5% illuminated. Like Earth, Mars also has four seasons, but because Mars’ eccentricity is greater than Earth’s and its axial tilt is different, its seasons are different lengths. In the Martian northern hemisphere, spring is 7 months, summer lasts 6months, fall is 5.3 months, and winter is just over 4 months. Mars’ summer solstice occurred on October 8th this year.

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