The Night Sky in October 2014
By Bill Smith
Volunteer at Cattle Point DARK SKY Urban Star Park
What’s up for October. A total lunar eclipse. A partial solar eclipse. And Mars meets a comet.
Set your alarm clock for an after-midnight wakeup on the morning of October 8. The moon enters Earth’s deep shadow for the second lunar eclipse of the year at 2:15 a.m. Victoria time. The total phase will begin at 3:15 a.m.
Two weeks later, a partial solar eclipse will be visible in the late afternoon. The deepest eclipse, where the moon’s silhouette extends nearly all the way across the sun, will be visible far to the north in the Canadian Arctic. But here in Victoria, the dark silhouette will cover about half the sun in the late afternoon. Remember: Never look directly at the sun during an eclipse–or any time. You can learn more about solar and lunar eclipses at: eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov
Mars and Comet Siding Spring are moving closer to each other this month. On October 19, the comet and the planet pass within 81,000 miles of one another. You may be able to spot the comet leading up to–and after–the 19th. You’ll need an unobstructed view of the south-southwestern horizon just after sunset. Look towards Port Angeles and try to spot Mars first. It’s to the upper left of the orange star Antares, near the horizon at about 7:30 p.m. Victoria time. Then, use your binoculars to scan for the comet. Even through using amateur telescopes, Comet Siding Spring may be just too faint to see. Even if it’s not visible in Victoria (especially at Cattle Point, the comet will be visible to the NASA missions currently at Mars. They hope to get back images which you will be able to see on the Internet. You can learn all about Comet Siding Spring’s encounter with Mars at: mars.nasa.gov/comets/sidingspring
Dark Skies to all friends of Cattle Point Star Park.
Summary is from the transcript of “What’s Up In October 2014” by NASA announcer and astronomer Jane Houston Jones with specific permission for localization to Cattle Point Urban Star Park and the Oak Bay News. – See more at http://www.cattlepointstarpark.org