June 19, 2024

October 2021 Skywatching Highlights From NASA – Two Brilliant Stars Vying for “Pole” Position

Whats Up for October? What to look for this month at sunrise and sunset, and 2 brilliant stars vying for the “pole” position.
On October 10th look for the five-day-old crescent Moon to join Venus and brilliant, orange-colored Antares in the southwest after sundown. Then view as Venus closes on Antares, for a close combination on the 15th and 16th, where the 2 will be only about a half and a degree apart.

Venus comes within about 1.5 ° of the brilliant orange-colored star Antares on Oct. 15 and 16, in the hour approximately after sundown. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
During the last week of October, Mercury pops briefly into view for early birds.
Try to find it about 10 degrees above the eastern horizon, or about the width of your fist held at arms length, about 30-45 minutes before sunrise.
In the recently of October, Mercury can be glimpsed briefly in the early morning sky before sunrise for those with a fairly clear view of the eastern horizon. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Then on October 30th, in the last couple of hours prior to daybreak, search for the 24-day-old crescent Moon to sign up with dazzling blue-white star Regulus.
Discover the crescent Moon near dazzling star Regulus in the east before dawn on October 30. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
All month long, look high overhead early in the evening to find two brilliant stars that take turns with Polaris being the North Star. Their names are Vega and Deneb. Both of these stars are part of the Summer Triangle, and we introduced the other member of the trio, Altair, in last months video. To discover Vega and Deneb, look high overhead in the very first few hours after it gets dark. Theyll be two of the brightest stars you can see up there.
In October, look high overhead to discover intense stars Vega and Deneb in the few hours after sundown. The set turn towards the west, setting in the pre-dawn hours. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Vega is a bluish-white star, and like Altair, its a fast rotator, spinning every 12 and a half hours, compared to the Suns 27-day rotation. NASAs Spitzer Space Telescope discovered Vega to have a particles disk around it that could be comparable to regions in our own planetary system.
Deneb is a blue-white supergiant star that is merging hydrogen at an extraordinary rate.
Deneb is much further away than a lot of intense stars in our night sky. Due to the fact that its so bright, its one of the most far-off stars you can see with the unaided eye.
These stars rotate around the northern celestial pole, and this time of year, they dip toward the western horizon prior to embeding in the pre-dawn hours. Both Vega and Deneb become part of a special group of stars that take turns being the pole star in the north, as Earths axis wobbles in a circle over a period of 26,000 years. For now the difference of “North Star” comes from Polaris, for at least a couple of a century more.
Over 26,000 years, Polaris trades the title of North Star with a group of others, consisting of Vega and Deneb. Of these unique stars, Polaris is the brilliant star that corresponds closest with the Celestial North Pole. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
October 16th is International Observe the Moon Night, when everybody is welcomed to learn about the science and exploration of the Moon. Visit this link to find out how you can take part.

All month long, look high overhead early in the night to find two intense stars that take turns with Polaris being the North Star. In October, look high overhead to find bright stars Vega and Deneb in the couple of hours after sunset. Deneb is much further away than a lot of brilliant stars in our night sky. Both Vega and Deneb are part of an unique group of stars that take turns being the pole star in the north, as Earths axis wobbles in a circle over a period of 26,000 years. Of these unique stars, Polaris is the brilliant star that corresponds closest with the Celestial North Pole.