Evening sky in October 2019

Look towards the north-west as Pegasus (winged-horse) and its easily recognizable ‘Great Square’ returns to our Spring skies, pursuing Cygnus (swan) which lies in the path of the Milky Way galaxy. Cygnus trails Aquila (eagle) and its rapidly rotating hot star Altair (taking only 10 Earth hours to spin once on its axis). Following the Milky Way to the south, passed bright constellations Scorpius and Sagittarius,  the Southern Cross along with its two bright pointers remain prominent in our night sky.

Staying in the south, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC, a neighboring galaxy) looms over the constellation Mensa. This faint group of stars, identified by French astronomer N.L. de Lacaille in the mid-18th century, was named after Cape Town’s Table Mountain as the LMC reminded him of the mountain’s occasional cloud cover. Further East, the longest constellation Eridanus (river) winds its way from the bright blue star Achenar down to the eastern horizon.

During the last week of October, 4 planets will reside in the western sky: (from the horizon up) Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn. The moon will be in the evening sky until the 17 October, and then again from the 29 October when it will appear in impressive proximity to the 4 planets. Mars remains too close to the Sun to be observed.