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What’s Up for October?

What’s Up for October?

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This month is filled with exciting celestial sights. Here are 10 targets you can view this month:

10. Unusual Sunset

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During a sunset, our thick atmosphere absorbs most colors of sunlight, but red light is absorbed the least. Rarely, green flashes can be seen just above the sun’s edge. As the last sliver of the disk disappears below the horizon, be sure to watch its color.

9. Belt of Venus

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Just after sunset, turn around and face east. A dark shadow will move up from the horizon and gradually cover the pinkish sky. This is caused from the Earth itself blocking the sunlight and is called the Earth Shadow or the Belt of Venus.

8. Crepuscular Rays

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Also just after sunset, or before dawn, you may see rays of sunlight spread like a fan. These are called crepuscular rays and are formed when sunlight streams through gaps in the clouds or mountains.

7. Aurora Borealis

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The northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis, are caused by collisions between gaseous particles in Earth’s atmosphere and charged particles released from the sun. The color of the lights can changed depending on the type of gas being struck by particles of solar wind. You can find out when and where to expect aurorae at the Space Weather Prediction Center.

6. Andromeda Galaxy

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Did you now that The Andromeda Galaxy is one of the few you can actually see with your naked eye? In October, look nearly overhead after sunset to see it! This galaxy is more than twice the apparent width of the moon.

5. Moon Features

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Nights in mid-October are excellent for viewing the features on the moon. Areas like the Sea of Tranquility and the site of the 1969 Apollo 11 landing will be visible.

4. A Comet

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This month, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission target, a comet with a complicated name (Comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko), is still bright enough for experienced astronomers to pick out in a dark sky. On October 9, you may be able to spot it in the east near the crescent moon and Venus.

3. Meteor Showers

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There are multiple meteor showers this month. On the 9th: watch the faint, slow-moving Draconids. On the 10th: catch the slow, super-bright Taurids. And on the 21st: don’t’ miss the swift and bright Orionids from the dust of Comet Halley.

2. Three Close Planets

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On October 28, you’ll find a tight grouping of Jupiter, Venus and Mars in the eastern sky before sunrise.

1. Zodiacal Light

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The Zodiacal light is a faint triangular glow that can be seen from a dark sky after sunset or before sunrise. What you’re seeing is sunlight reflecting off dust grains that circle the sun in the inner solar system. These dust grains travel in the same plane as the moon and planets as they journey across our sky.

For more stargazing tools visit: Star Tool Box

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