What's Up for October?
Fri, 01 Oct 2010 11:00:00 -0500
What's Up for October?
The Solar System you can see, and a scale model you can make!
Hello and welcome!
I'm Jane Houston Jones at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
This month we begin a Year of the Solar System celebration, exploring new worlds and new discoveries!
We'll celebrate the amazing discoveries of NASA missions as they explore our near and distant neighbors and probe the very outer edges of our solar system.
How many solar system objects can you see this month?
October is prime Jupiter season. Through a small telescope you can see cloud bands and four moons. You can see even more detail through larger instruments.
Near Jupiter, you can spot Uranus.
They look close together but Uranus is really 1.4 billion miles farther away .
We say goodby to Venus in the evening sky as it slips around the sun and prepares to appear in the morning sky. Saturn peeks out at dawn this month.
Mars and Mercury are difficult to impossible to see this month.
Which solar system objects have we left out?
Take a look around to see earthly features found on other solar system bodies. Clouds, lakes, mountains and valleys.
You can view our sun safely through solar –safe telescopes, but never look directly at the sun or you'll hurt your eyes. The moon is visible in our sky all month long.
The moon appears above Jupiter at dusk on October 19th.
A few days later, on the 22nd, the bright moon will wash out the meteors of the Orion Meteor shower.
One special comet is visible this month through binoculars or telescopes. It might even be visible to the unaided eye. It's called Comet 103P Hartley 2, or just Hartley 2 for short.
It should be easy to spot, passing through the constellations Auriga and Gemini this month.
NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft, on its extended mission, will fly by this comet in November.
Here's an image the spacecraft 60 days before encounter.
You can make your own scale model of the solar system. All you need is a string and some beads to mark the planets. And here's where you can get a guide for how to space them.
To learn about all of NASA's missions at www.nasa.gov
That's all for this month. I'm Jane Houston Jones.
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Good Clear Skies
Colin James Watling
Real Astronomer and head of the Comet section for LYRA (Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers) also head of K.A.G (Kessingland Astronomy Group) and Navigator (Astrogator) of the Stars (Fieldwork)