October Skies

Early October
———-Twilight

Screenshot 2015-10-10 22.14.40

—————–Arcturus,Arcturus_9x63(09082015-red_web-final)
——————–brilliant in the Northwest, shimmering red-orange against the deep azure sky;
——————–this giant star’s core at temperatures only a god can comprehend, synthesizing carbon and oxygen;
—————-We,
——————-all of us, bound by this common origin, composed of elements forged in the nuclear cauldrons of
——————-long-dead stars, look up at the stars and, in humility, connect with each other, fellow
——————-travelers on this magnificent blue oasis.

————–The air is clean and clear

And so, marking time with the passage of the Equinox, Autumn begins. The familiar stars of summer, the triad of bright stars, still high as Arcturus descends the northwest, Vega, Deneb and Altair, the Summer Triangle, move imperceptibly each night towards the southwest.

Evening progresses

Arcturus sets, the big dipper of Ursa Major, its handle arcing to Arcturus, rests in the north, close to the horizon it does, for those in the north;

Fomalhaut, a solitary sentinel, a beacon in the south, young and burning bright, shines with a pure white light, as does Vega, similar in many ways, now in the Northwest following Arcturus.

With Andromeda in tow, Pegasus, the horse, a great square, with Enif, his nose, ascends the northeast. A common star to both, Alpheratz of Andromeda towards the northeast, links to Pegasus.

Within her borders, Andromeda contains one of the few objects visible to the unaided eye outside our Milky Wm31_gendler_Nmosaic1ay galaxy, the great galaxy in Andromeda of Hubble fame. Observing Cepheid variable stars in this great island universe of 1.23 trillion stars, first in 1923, Edwin Hubble established the standard distance metric by which we determine the expansion rate of the universe.

The heavenly queen of the north, Cassiopeia, all her jewels of equal light, presents as an “M” high overhead.

Later in the evening, a chill is in the air.

The familiar stars of winter begin their ascent to prominence in the southeast;

Aldebaran, as Arcturus, bright, shimmering but more subtly so and more red, is due east; this giant star marks the eye of Taurus the bull.
M45

The Pleiades, the Seven Sisters, a stunning sight in binoculars, well placed high in the east by midnight, each a young star, burning hot and bright, placed at the heart of the bull.

 

 

 

Later, in the deep of the October night, the hunter follows; Orion, it’s winter jewels like no other.

Capella, of Auriga the Charioteer, golden bright and northeast from Aldebaran; beautifully golden as the sun; unlike the sun though, a binary star; each, a giant, each, a golden color, one of them slightly more so.

———Perseus rising

stellarium-002
————–ahead of Auriga, with yellow-white supergiant Mirphak marking the belt of the Grecian hero; a star ————–7,000 times as luminous as the sun, Mirphak, almost 10 times the sun’s mass and 70 times its size! An ————–evolved star, as Aldebaran and Arcturus, albeit yellow-white, it no longer derives its energy from ————–hydrogen. Its size, mass and color portend a rare fate, a terrible beauty, the fires of creation
————–unleashed, a Type II supernova! We know not the day or the hour but it is nigh.

Towards morning, a rare treat with dawn’s faint light,

——-preceding the sun, Venus, Jupiter, Mercury and Mars delight!

stellarium-004The morning of Sunday, 11 October, 2015

If only for a moment, go outside and look up.

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