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Home SCIENCE Skywatch: Jupiter, King of the Planets, Rises to a Luminous Realm

Skywatch: Jupiter, King of the Planets, Rises to a Luminous Realm

As the leaves fall, enjoy how the planets rise: now at sunset, find Jupiter — the king of the planets — ascending in the eastern sky and reigning in luminous form. The large gaseous planet appears above the treetops around 7:30 p.m. and can be seen stationed near the constellation. Pisces.

Jupiter remains bright even after its official opposition (opposite the sun of Land) on September 26. It now has a brilliant magnitude of -2.9, according to the US Naval Observatory. At midnight in early October, find this majestic planet to the south. It dims slightly towards the end of the month.

Saturn – the other large gaseous planet in our solar system – now rises in the late afternoon, ahead of Jupiter, and hovers near the goat-shaped Capricorn. In early October, the ringed planet rules at magnitude +0.5, which is bright enough to be seen in a city sky. At sunset, it is approximately 30 degrees above the horizon and due south at 10 p.m.

the ever popular Mars it rises now in the east-northeast around 10 p.m. very early in October, but you might see Earth’s reddish neighbor later in the evening hanging out near the horns of Taurus. The planet marches towards its own opposition in December and becomes brighter from our earthly perspective.

Mars started 2022 dim at magnitude +1.5, according to the observatory, but has an inch toward brightness throughout the year. Mars appears at magnitude -0.7 (bright) during the first week of October and continues to dazzle. In early November, the Red Planet becomes noticeably brighter at magnitude -1.4.

Like an annoying little brother, the Moon follow the planets around the night skies throughout this month. Look south Oct. 4-5, when the crescent moon passes Saturn, according to the observatory. Our lunar companion approaches Jupiter on October 1. 7 and slides closely on October 1. 8. The full moon is on October 1. 9 and the waning gibbous moon approaches Mars on October 9. 13 and glides by the planet on October 1. 14 and 15.

Venus it reaches superior conjunction (hidden by the sun’s glare) and (barely) emerges from its fall vacation in December.

the Orionids The meteor shower is expected to peak on the night of October 1. 21-22, according to the American Meteor Society. At 20 shooting stars per hour at peak, that’s a normal rate for showers. Observers can see a handful of shooting stars.

Meteorites occur when the Earth, on its annual journey around the sun, collides with the dusty trails of comets that have passed. Dust and pebbles hit our atmosphere and burn it up, putting on a show for us. The parent comet of the Orionids is an old historical friend: haley.

Nature presents a partial solar eclipse on October 25, but it will only be visible in Europe, northeast Africa, the Middle East and western Asia, according to eclipse expert Fred Espenak, who runs the website.

* Oct 7 — Learn about the September 26 impact of DART, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, at a conference on protecting Earth from out-of-this-world impacts. The speakers will be Andrew Cheng and Andrew Rivkin, both from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. The scientists were co-leaders of the DART mission. Organized by PSW Science. 8 pm, Powell Auditorium at the Cosmos Club, 2121 Massachusetts Ave. Information from NO to DC: Register for the face-to-face conference: (Masks and proof of coronavirus vaccine are required.) Sign up for the Zoom webinar: The conference will be broadcast live on YouTube:

* Oct 8th – “Multi-messenger astronomy,” a talk by Rita Sambrunna, deputy director of astrophysics at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, at the regular National Capital Astronomers meeting. 7:30 pm To access the meeting online, visit:

* Oct 9 — “The Birth of Supermassive Black Holes,” a talk by Jenny Greene, a professor of astrophysical sciences at Princeton, on how these cosmic beasts form. While Greene will give a virtual lecture, members and guests are welcome to attend the meeting in person of the Astronomy Club of Northern Virginia, Room 3301, Exploratory Hall, George Mason University, Fairfax, Va. 7:30 pm Information: Remote meeting details:

* Oct 29 — The bright planets are featured in “Astronomy for Everyone” at Sky Meadows State Park in Fauquier County, Virginia. Ambassadors from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory provide an astronomy program, while members of the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club will offer telescopic views. 6-9 pm GPS: 11012 Edmonds Lane, Delaplane, Virginia, 20144. Information: Park fee: $10.

Blaine Friedlander can be contacted at



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