Skywatch Line for Wednesday, October 7th and Thursday, October 8th

This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Wednesday, October 7th and Thursday, October 8th written by Louis Suarato

The 22% illuminated, waning crescent Moon sets at 3:39 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. A slightly thinner crescent Moon will rise again at 2:31 a.m. Thursday. Thursday morning’s crescent Moon will be joined by Venus and the constellation Leo’s brightest star, Regulus, less than a half hour later. Venus and the Moon will be less than a degree apart, while Venus and Regulus will be 2.6 degrees apart with the Moon to their upper right. Mars and Jupiter join the party at 3:54 and 4:15 a.m. respectively, and will be 4 degrees apart. Mercury rises around 6 a.m., but may be a challenge to see with the morning glow of the Sun. The crescent Moon, four planets, and the bright star Regulus should provide a wonderful photo opportunity. Friday morning, a 10% illuminated, crescent Moon will be 3 degrees to the side of Mars.

October 7th is the anniversary of the first photos taken of the dark side of the Moon. In 1959, the Russian spacecraft, Luna 3, looked back of the side of the Moon never seen before, and transmitted 29 photos back to Earth. Although the photos were of poor quality, they did provide details of 70% of the side of the Moon that never faces our planet. The far side of the Moon was first seen directly by human eyes when, during the Apollo 8 mission, astronaut William Anders said “The backside looks like a sand pile my kids have played in for some time. It’s all beat up, no definition, just a lot of bumps and holes.”

The Albany Area Amateur Astronomers will be hosting public star parties at the Landis Arboretum in Esperance, NY on Friday, October 9th, and Saturday, October 10th. These star parties provide a great opportunity to learn about the night sky’s constellations and deep sky objects such as galaxies, nebulae, star clusters and asterisms. Amateur astronomers are also available to discuss and demonstrate the various types of telescopes on the market. Directions to the arboretum can be found at http://dudleyobservatory.org/AAAA/directions/ .

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