October 2016 Skies
Not all sky watching happens at night. This month I want you to try to go outside right at sunset and look to the east. Notice the deep blue-gray band near the horizon. It’s going to be darker than the twilight sky. As the sun sets, this band rises higher into the sky. Maybe you’ve guessed already that the dark band is the Earth’s shadow cast out into space. It’s even curved just like the Earth. It’s visible in the morning too in the western sky as the sun rises in the east. This shadow extends for hundreds of thousands of miles into space. When that shadow crosses the Moon, we see a lunar eclipse.
October 16 is the closest Full Moon to Halloween this year. September’s Full Harvest Moon produced the stereotypical haunted sky with spooky clouds hanging in front of the bright Moon. Maybe October’s Full Hunter’s Moon will deliver more photo opportunities. On October 19, look for the Moon very close to the red giant star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus. Jupiter returns to the morning sky late in October. Also late in October, look to the west as Venus and Saturn come close together. Mars hangs in there as well staying bright in the western sky until the middle of next year when it finally slips into the Sun’s glare.