Skywatch Line for Friday, October 8, through Sunday, October 10, 2021

This is Dudley Observatory’s Skywatch Line for Friday, October 8, through Sunday, October 10, written by Sam Salem.

On Friday, Sun rises at 7:01am and sets at 6:24pm; Moon rises at 9:31m and sets at 7:51pm.

On Friday night, Spot Venus low in the southwest as early in twilight as you can. Then look lower right of it by some 12 degrees, or about a fist at arm’s length, for the thin crescent Moon. The Moon is at perigee on Friday, so it will appear a trace larger than average, or a super crescent Moon.

On Saturday, the Moon shines only about 3 degrees above Venus in twilight, just while Venus is passing ¾ degrees lower left of 2nd-magnitude Delta Scorpii. As the sky darkens after sunset, watch the southwestern sky for the pairing of the slim crescent Moon shining just above very bright Venus, easily close enough for them to share your binoculars’ field of view. Try to spot the Moon in late afternoon and try to see Venus’ bright speck below it in daytime, even without binoculars. Once the sky darkens, after about 7:30pm, the fainter claw stars of Scorpius will appear around the Moon and Venus. Venus, at magnitude –4.3, shines low in southwest during twilight, in the constellation of Libra. It sets a little after twilight’s end.

The Draconids meteor showers are short-lived. Watch these meteors at nightfall and early evening of Friday. You might catch some on the nights before and after as well. Fortunately, the thin waxing crescent Moon sets before nightfall and won’t hinder this year’s Draconid shower. The radiant point for the Draconid meteor shower almost coincides with the head of the constellation Draco the Dragon in the northern sky. The radiant point of the meteor shower stands highest in the sky as darkness falls. That means that, unlike many meteor showers, more Draconids are likely to fly in the evening hours than in the morning hours after midnight. This shower usually produces only a handful of languid meteors per hour in most years. In rare instances, fiery Draco has been known to spew forth many hundreds of meteors in a single hour.

On Friday, the dwarf planet Ceres will cease its eastward motion across the stars of the constellation of Taurus. The next nights, Ceres will begin a westward retrograde loop that will last until mid-January. In late evening, the magnitude 8.2 dwarf planet will be located low in the eastern sky, several finger widths to the lower left of the Bull’s brightest star Aldebaran.

Jupiter and Saturn continue to shine in the southeast to south during evening. They sit 16 degrees apart on opposite sides of dim constellation of Capricornus. By the end of twilight, they sit equally high in the south-southeast. As evening progresses watch them tilt to the right, with Saturn the lower one. Saturn sets around 2am, followed by Jupiter about an hour later.

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