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 23: AU Microscopii

The faint constellation Microscopium is low in the south at nightfall. One of its members, AU Microscopium, is a newborn red-dwarf star. The faint light is encircled by a disk of dust that could provide the raw materials for making planets.

October 24: Georgian Stars

Sandwiched between the big constellations Taurus, Cetus, and Eridanus is a small, extinct constellation that honored England’s King George II. Its brightest star, known today as Omicron 2 Eridani, is really three stars bound by gravity.

October 25: Moon and Mars

Mars is creeping into view in the early morning. It’s quite low in the east as twilight begins to paint the sky and looks like a moderately bright star. It will be easier to pick out tomorrow because it will stand just below the crescent Moon.

October 26: Time Travel

The star Aldebaran is low in the east by 10 p.m. It’s 65 light-years away, so the light we see from Aldebaran tonight left the star 65 years ago. The Pleiades star cluster is above Aldebaran. We see it as it looked near the start of the 17th century.

October 27: Galactic Twin

One of autumn’s sky highlights is the Andromeda Galaxy. It’s the most distant object that’s readily visible to the unaided eye -- about 2.5 million light-years away. It is in the east-northeast at nightfall and looks like a small, fuzzy patch of light.

October 28: Uranus at Opposition

The giant planet Uranus is at opposition. It rises around sunset and remains in the sky all night. Under a dark sky, it’s at the edge of naked-eye visibility. Most viewers, however, will need binoculars to pick it out, near the western corner of Aries.

October 29: Moon and Venus

Venus is continuing its slow return to view as the “evening star.” It stands to the lower right of the Moon about 30 minutes after sunset. The planet is quite low in the sky, though, so any obstructions along the horizon will block it from view.