Orion Store
Shopping Cart
0 item(s)
HACKER SAFE certified sites prevent over 99.9% of hacker crime.
Mounts & Tripods

All Current Offers

Gift Center
Shop by Brand

Solar Eclipse 2017

{"dragByHandle":true,"dragByBody":false,"cssSelector":"ql-thumbnail","widgetClass":"OverlayWidget","bindings":{"bind0":{"element":".ql-thumbnail .Quicklook .trigger","type":"quicklookselected","fn":"function(){$.fnProxy(arguments,\'#headerOverlay\',OverlayWidget.show,\'OverlayWidget.show\');}"}},"effectOnHide":"fade","effectOnShowOptions":"{}","effectOnHideOptions":"{}","closeOnBackgroundClick":true,"effectOnShowSpeed":"1200","onScreenPadding":10,"allowOffScreenOverlay":false,"captureClicks":true,"effectOnShow":"fade","effectOnHideSpeed":"1200"}

The Night Sky Tonight: October 21 – October 29

By Mark Wagner

Friday, October 21
The star Alpheratz is the alpha (A) star in the constellation Andromeda, and it is one of a few stars that share two constellations. Here we see it as one of the four stars comprising the Great Square in Pegasus, tonight's asterism. The Great Square is a very distinctive asterism, and once learned, makes navigating this part of the sky visually much easier. Do you remember the two other stars (B and A) noted in this image? What constellations are they in?

Skill Level: Beginner

Suggested Gear: Orion DeepMap 600 Folding Star Chart, Orion Star Target Planisphere, 30-50 degree

Tomorrow morning: Last Quarter Moon Targets

Saturday, October 22
On Saturday morning the third quarter Moon rides high in the south above the bright star Procyon in Canis Minor, as dawn is breaking. Two targets are perfectly situated along the terminator this morning. Rima Ariadaeus is below the large dark circular Mare Serenitatis, and can be seen as a long lenticular channel extending east/west away from the terminator toward Rima Hyginus. Use a 100mm instrument. The fine crater Maurolycus is fine in 10x binoculars, and will show dark shadows on the walls away from the terminator. The walls and floor are punctuated with many other craters and craterlets. Try these two targets and please, post your impressions on our Facebook page!

Skill Level: Beginner

Suggested Gear: Orion AstroView 90mm Equatorial Refractor Telescope, Orion Scenix 10x50 Wide-Angle Binoculars

Tomorrow evening: Deep sky; a Blue Snowball in Andromeda

Sunday, October 23
The Blue Snowball is a bright planetary nebula in the western portion of the constellation Andromeda. At 5,600 light years distance, its magnitude 9.0, 2.2 arc-minute diameter has a high surface brightness, and is obvious even at low power due to its striking blue color. Large instruments will show an annularity surrounding its central star, and concentric rings forming its outer layers. Observer Jere Kahanpää used a 150mm telescope at 275X to record this observation: ?Round. Extremely bright. Low magnification shows a nice bluish color but at 275x the disk is grey. The ring-structure was quite easy with averted vision but very diffuse and of low contrast.? Locate it with an imaginary line between the Beta (B) stars in Cassiopeia, Pegasus, and straight up from Beta Andromedae (B) to find a small arc of three stars. The target will be to their right, where you'd expect a fourth star completing the arc would be. Let us know if you find it and what you see.

Skill Level: Intermediate

Suggested Gear: Orion SkyQuest XT8i IntelliScope Dobsonian Telescope, 1.25" Orion UltraBlock NarrowBand Filter

Tomorrow morning: Double star 23 Ursae Majoris

Monday, October 24
Star hop across the Big Dipper's bowl from Delta to Alpha, then to this nice binary star 23, Ursae Majoris. It may challenge you from brighter locations at magnitude 3.62, but there will be few other stars near its magnitude nearby. With a luminosity of 16 Suns, it has a 2.7 solar radii and is 75.5 light years distant. The primary component is magnitude 3.65, and its companion separated by 22 arc-seconds shines at 9th magnitude. Expert observer Steve Coe sees the colors as white and light orange.

Skill Level: Intermediate

Suggested Gear: Orion SpaceProbe 130 EQ Reflector Telescope, Orion DeepMap 600 Folding Star Chart

Tomorrow evening: Binocular double star in Pegasus

Tuesday, October 25
The pair of stars Pi 1 and Pi 2 Pegasi form a very pretty optical double star in binoculars. Pi 1 is 252 light years away shining at magnitude 4.25 with a 7.7 solar radii and 102x the Sun's luminosity. Pi 2 is dimmer at magnitude 5.58, but larger at 11 solar radii and 58 times our Sun's luminosity. Pi 1 is a yellow giant, and Pi 2 a yellow-white sub giant. Have a look in your binoculars and see if you can tell the color differences. Start your star hop off Beta (B) Pegasi, the star Scheat, and move up beyond the next brightest star above it. This one should be easy.

Skill Level: Intermediate

Suggested Gear: Orion 15x70 Astronomy Binoculars with Tripod Adapter, Orion DeepMap 600 Folding Star Chart

Tomorrow morning: Planet Jupiter returns

Wednesday, October 26
Jupiter is back! Soon we?ll be watching the Great Red Spot, moons changing positions, and shadows playing across the active face of this planet. Look to the east an hour before sunrise to find it just over the horizon in Virgo. Above it, in Leo is a very nice waning crescent Moon sitting almost mid-point between Jupiter and the bright star Regulus. Look again Friday morning when Jupiter will be just above the slimmest sliver of a nearly new Moon.

Skill Level: Beginner

Suggested Gear: Orion AstroView 90mm Equatorial Refractor Telescope, Orion Star Target Planisphere, 30-50 degree

Tomorrow evening: Saturn and Venus conjunction!

Thursday, October 27
A superb view tonight over the western horizon is of Saturn and Venus in conjunction just above the red giant star Antares. Their magnitudes are 0.53, -4.0, and 1.03, respectively. While you?re enjoying this view, look to the east to see how quickly Mars is now moving eastward. Just a few weeks ago it was sitting atop the Teapot asterism of Sagittarius. At times our solar system seems to be moving very quickly!

Skill Level: Beginner

Suggested Gear: Orion StarBlast 4.5 Astro Reflector Telescope, Orion Star Target Planisphere, 30-50 degree

Tomorrow morning: Binocular observing

Friday, October 28
Binocular observing is a treat in Taurus, setting soon in the west as day approaches, with two famous large open clusters that fit this larger field format nicely. The Hyades is easy to locate using the bright navigation star Aldebaran. This is the nearest open cluster to us, 153 light years away, and covers a staggering 330 arc-minutes of sky. The chains of stars will literally fill your field of view. Open clusters rarely last more than 1 billion years before dissolving. The Hyades is estimated to be 625 million years old. The Pleiades is a young compact open cluster, at less than 100 million years of age. Also known as Subaru, and the Seven Sisters, it is easily recognized naked-eye as a small "dipper" shape. In binoculars its 110 arc-minutes of size breaks up into dozens of bright stars for a very pleasing view. Who will give these a try this Friday morning?

Skill Level: Beginner

Suggested Gear: Orion Scenix 10x50 Wide-Angle Binoculars, Orion UltraView 10x50 Wide-Angle Binoculars

Tomorrow morning: Dim Monoceros

Saturday, October 29
Monoceros is among the dimmest constellations. It has four main stars, of which Beta is the brightest at magnitude 3.76. Alpha is magnitude 3.93. Use the first magnitude stars Procyon in Canis Minor, Sirius in Canis Major, and Betelgeuse in Orion to frame the area containing Monoceros along the winter Milky Way. Given that the constellation is almost fully immersed in the band of our Milky Way galaxy, which sorts of deep sky objects would you find here? Is there anyone who can recommend their favorites? And, who can tell us what a Monoceros is? The constellation is modern, originating with the 17th century cartographer Petrus Plancius. Share your thoughts in the comments on our Facebook page.

Skill Level: Beginner

Suggested Gear: Orion SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope, Orion DeepMap 600 Folding Star Chart

Tomorrow evening: More binocular astronomy

Charts from Starry Night Pro, available from Orion Telescopes & Binoculars. Lunar images from Virtual Moon Atlas. Blue Snowball sketch courtesy Bertrand Laville. All data from Starry Night Pro 6 and Wikipedia.

Mark Wagner is a life-long astronomy enthusiast and deep sky observer in the San Francisco bay area. Visit our Facebook Page if you'd like to post comments, questions, sketches or images you've taken on the our Night Sky Tonight sky charts.