Weekly Stargazing Tips

Provided by StarDate.org. Unless otherwise specified, viewing times are local time regardless of time zone, and are good for the entire Lower 48 states (and, generally, for Alaska and Hawaii).

October 15: Collision Zones

Auriga, the charioteer, climbs into view in the northeast by about 9 p.m. It’s marked by yellow-orange Capella, one of the brightest stars in northern skies.

October 16: Close Visitor

A space rock the size of a building will buzz near Earth tomorrow, although there is no risk of it hitting us. Asteroid 2014 US7 will miss Earth by about 750,000 miles, which is three times the distance to the Moon.

October 17: Moon and Mars

Look for the planet Mars to the left of the Moon as darkness falls this evening. It looks like a bright orange star. Mars will stand even closer to the Moon as they set, after midnight.

October 18: More Moon and Mars

The planet Mars stands to the right of the Moon at nightfall. Although it has lost a good bit of its luster since the summer, it remains one of the half-dozen brightest objects in the night sky, shining like a brilliant orange star.

October 19: Orionid Meteors

The Orionid meteor shower will be at its best this weekend. The Moon makes a pest of itself, though, especially on Sunday night, when the shower should reach its peak. It leaves a little better viewing window tonight and tomorrow night, though.

October 20: G Stars

Under a dark sky, far from city lights, the eye can see thousands of stars, yet only a few are like the Sun. Two of them are in view by about 10 p.m. 51 Pegasi is in the south, well above the Moon. At the same time, Tau Ceti is low in the southeast.

October 21: Gibbous Moon

The Moon stands almost due east at sunset. It’s in its “waxing gibbous” phase. “Gibbous” means that sunlight illuminates more than half of the hemisphere facing Earth, while “waxing” means that a greater percentage of the surface is lit each night.