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October Skies 2014

October skies are between the bright stars of Summer and Winter, however the Milky Way, crossing from southwest to northeast, has a chance to display its subtle beauty, anchored by the Summer Triangle in the southwest, and the rising star Capella in the northeast.  The astronomy highlight this month is the Total Lunar Eclipse, early on the morning of the 8th.  The eclipse reaches its maximum just as the Moon is setting in the morning twilight, limiting the views. Mars lingers low in the southwestern evening skies, while Saturn slips into the Sun’s glare.  On the other side of night, Venus, too, is lost behind the Sun, though Jupiter rises after midnight, and climbs high into the southeast by the beginning of twilight.

21 – In the west this evening, the bright star Arcturus is low in the west, while another bright beacon, Vega, is high in the west.  Looking a third of the way up from Arcturus to Vega is a semi-circle of stars, known as the Northern Crown, or Corona Borealis.

22 –  Near 7:30 this evening, look due south and fairly low in the sky.  Can you see a faint triangle, flat on the top with a point on the bottom?  This is actually the constellation Capricorn, the Sea Goat.  This is the zodiac constellation of late December through mid-January, when the Sun appeared among these stars to ancient Persian astronomers.

23 -  The star Capella, one of the ten brightest in the sky, is exactly northeast at 8:45 PM EDT, occasionally flickering colors of red, blue and green as its brilliant light is broken into random segments of a rainbow by the Earth’s atmosphere.



Look for descriptions of the Total Lunar Eclipse of October 8th, and images taken from North America and the Pacific (not visible for Asia, Europe, or Africa)

Draco the Dragon and the northern sky (click on image for larger image in a new tab) 
Draco the Dragon




Astronomy Resources

Sky and Telescope’s safe eclipse viewing guide

You can view the partial eclipse safely and easily following the directions provided.


The Mars Science Laboratory – Curiosity Rover

This is the home page for the Curiosity Rover.  Explore the site to find images, videos, and volumes of science information.


The Mars Exploration Program

This is the home page for all of the on-going missions to Mars.


The Mars page of the website Nine Planets

Nine Planets is a great website featuring information about each planet (and even though there are only eight “planets”, you’ll find information about nearly all of the moons, dwarf planets, and other small solar system bodies)


Sky & Telescope's Interactive Star Chart

You must register first (it's free) to use this on-line chart.  Follow the directions to get a chart that will show the sky for any location, at any time.  You can also create a .pdf file to view from your computer any time.


The Old Farmer's Almanac


Astronomy Picture of the Day

Each day brings a fascinating look at astronomy, and an explanation of what you are seeing.

Vermont Astronomical Society

The Vermont Astronomical Society (VAS) is a group of amateur astronomers that has been serving northern Vermont for over 45 years. Membership ranges from beginning naked-eye stargazers to advanced amateurs with home observatories and elaborate equipment.



NASA Science

This is the home of NASA, where science ranges from the Earth to the ends of the universe.  That means there's a lot to explore!  


News and information about the Earth-Sun environment, including astronomy events (eclipses, moon phenomena, asteroids, etc.), discoveries, and Northern Lights.  


Sky & Telescope Magazine

 Astronomy Magazine

Books: There are thousands of books, and each has information that can be helpful.  You might collect a few before you find one that matches your taste and way of thinking about astronomy.  To help you get started, check with your local library or favorite book store for the following titles:  

The Stars by H. A. Rey

Rey, well known for writing and illustrating the "Curious George" books, wrote this wonderful introduction to the night sky in the 1950s, and it remains one of the best for a wide range of ages and interests.  

NightWatch by Terrence Dickinson

This ring-bound book leads the beginning star gazer through the heavens, rich in photographs, charts, and lots of practical information.  

Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning by Richard Hinkley Allen 

For those who love the myths and origins of star names and constellations, this is a wonderful start.  Some of the interpretations have been challenged in recent years as others have looked into the subject, so it is not considered the final authority.  But it is still a wealth of ideas and information.  

Night Sky: A Guide to Field Identification (Golden Field Guides) by Mark R. Chartrand

This all around guide book shows you how to find the constellations, describes the nature of the heavens and the objects we see, and how to set up and use a telescope  

Exploring the Night Skies with Binoculars by David Chandler

This is must, because it gives such practical and realistic expectations about what you can see.   

Also of interest:

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Astronomy by Christopher De Pree and Alan Axelrod

Cosmos by Carl Sagan

365 Starry Nights by Chet Raymo

The Sky: A User’s Guide by David Levy
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