The Planets for October 2014
Visible early in the month in the western evening twilight and because of the angle of the ecliptic to the western horizon will be setting almost two hours later than the Sun for the first few days of the month. It however sinks very rapidly toward the Sun as the month progresses and is in inferior conjunction on the 17th of the month after which it enters the early morning sky and by the end of the month will be rising 45 minutes earlier than the Sun.
This month Venus goes through its transition of going from being the “Morning Star” to becoming the “Evening Star” later in November. It is in superior conjunction with the Sun on the 25th of the month and too close to the Sun for the entire month to be safely observed.
The red planet begins the month less than
4 degrees from Antares, the star that reflects its name (rival of Mars) and the similarity in their colours is obvious when they are this close together. Each passing evening takes it further east of Antares, passing
2 degrees to the north of the 7th magnitude globular cluster M19 on the 9th before heading into the star clouds of the Milky Way. It passes less than a degree from the Lagoon Nebula (M8) on the 27th and the 28th as it heads deeper into Sagittarius. The waxing crescent Moon lies to the north of the planet on the 28th and 29th of the month.
Beginning the month in Cancer, Jupiter rises over two hours before the Sun at the beginning of October. It moves into Leo on the 19th where by the end of the month will be rising over three hours before the Sun at 2:35am. On the 18th and 19th the waning crescent Moon lies in attendance.
This is the last opportunity to observe Saturn in the evening sky as it is rapidly heading for conjunction with the Sun in November. The first half of the month will be the best chance to see the ringed planet in a reasonably dark western twilight after which it appears in the ever brightening twilight sky. The dwarf planet Ceres will be within half a degree of Jupiter on the 5th and will outshine all of Saturn’s moons except its largest moon, Titan. The thin waxing crescent Moon sits just above Saturn on the 26th of the month.
There will be a total lunar eclipse visible from eastern Australia on the 8th of the month. The times are listed below and are stated in Eastern Standard Time. One hour will have to be added to the times for the states on daylight savings which starts on October the 5th.
Penumbral Phase begins 6:14pm EST
Partial Stage Begins
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The Planets for November 2014
November is not a good month to observe the inner planet. It reaches its greatest angular distance from the Sun on the 1st of the month and because of the sharp angle of the ecliptic to the early morning eastern horizon it will always be lost in the glare of the morning twilight rising only 45 minutes before the Sun.
Returning to the western sky this month however will be too close to the sun at least until the end of the month when it will be setting only 40 minutes later than the Sun. The opportunity to get a glimpse of Venus improves in December.
Vernal equinox on the 23rd of the month.
The red planet meets up with some impressive objects this month as it makes its way through the very busy star fields of Sagittarius. On the 3rd it passes
0.2 degrees from the globular cluster M28 and three days later on the 6th is less than
1 degree from the magnificent globular cluster M22. Mars will be setting just before midnight for the entire month and on the 26th the four day old waxing crescent Moon passes
7 degrees to the north of the planet.
Rising at 2:30am at the beginning of the month, Jupiter continues its slow passage deeper into the constellation of Leo-The Lion. Even a small telescope will reveal the four Galilean Moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto and it is worth observing their changing positions from night to night. By the end of the month it will be rising around 12:40am. The last quarter Moon lies
5 degrees to the south of Jupiter on the 15th.
The ringed planet will be on the opposite side of the Sun to the Earth on the 18th and lost from view until it joins the eastern morning sky next month.
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