Demand #204 : Write a relentless list about the night sky

01    At this time of year, five constellations form a line descending from the zenith down to the west-northwest horizon shortly after dark. Near the zenith is the star Deneb: the head star of the Northern Cross and the tail of Cygnus, the Swan.

02    Next down is Lyra with bright Vega, then dim Hercules, then little Corona Borealis, and finally Bootes with bright Arcturus low in the west-northwest.

03    Jupiter’s Great Red Spot should cross Jupiter’s central meridian (the imaginary line down the center of the planet’s disk from pole to pole) around 12:35 a.m. Sunday morning Eastern Daylight Time; 9:35 p.m. Saturday evening PDT. The “red” spot appears very pale orange-tan.

04    The bright eclipsing variable star Algol should be in one of its periodic dimmings, magnitude 3.4 instead of its usual 2.1, fora couple hours centered on 10:28 p.m. EDT. Algol takes several additional hours to fade and to rebrighten.

05    In the dark hours of Monday morning, October 4th, telescope users in most of the eastern and central U.S. can watch the waning crescent Moon occult (cover) the 3.5-magnitude star Omicron Leonis near Regulus. The star disappears on the Moon’s bright limb and reappears from behind its Earthlit dark limb.

06    Mira is up. The brightest long-period red variable star is visible to the unaided eye in Cetus. It was about magnitude 3.4 as of October 3rd, already slightly brighter than its predicted maximum due next week.

07    Will it grow any brighter? Cetus is in good view in the east-southeast by about 11 p.m. daylight saving time.

08    Jupiter’s Red Spot should transit around 2:13 a.m. Tuesday morning EDT; 11:13 p.m. Monday evening PDT.

09    Jupiter’s Red Spot should transit around 10:04 p.m. EDT.

10    In dawn tomorrow morning, a very thin crescent Moon is visible quite low in the east.

11    Bring binoculars.

12    In the eastern evening sky this month, look upper left of bright Jupiter for the Great Square of Pegasus.

13    Look farther to Jupiter’s lower right for 1st-magnitude Fomalhaut.

14    Algol should be at minimum light for a couple hours centered on 7:17 p.m. EDT.

15    New Moon (exact at 2:44 p.m. EDT).

16    Spot Arcturus, the brightest star of Bootes, low in the west-northwest as twilight fades. Look to its right in the north-northwest for the Big Dipper.

17    Jupiter’s Red Spot should transit around 1:20 a.m. Sunday morning EDT; 10:20 p.m. Saturday evening PDT.

18    Mercury (magnitude –1.2) drops back down into the sunrise this week. Early in the week, look for it low due east.

19    Venus, though bright at magnitude –4.7, is disappearing very low in the southwest during bright evening twilight. It sets well before dark.

20    In a telescope Venus is becoming an ever thinner, longer crescent. The best telescopic views are had in daylight long before sunset — but don’t accidentally sweep up the Sun.

21    Red Spot Transits – October 1: 2:57, 12:53, 22:48; 2: 8:44, 18:39; 3: 4:35, 14:31; 4: 0:26, 10:22, 20:17; 5: 6:13, 16:09; 6: 2:04, 12:00, 21:55; 7: 7:51, 17:47; 8: 3:42, 13:38, 23:33; 9: 9:29, 19:25; 10: 5:20, 15:16; 11: 1:12, 11:07, 21:03; 12: 6:58, 16:54; 13: 2:50, 12:45, 22:41; 14: 8:37, 18:32; 15: 4:28, 14:23; 16: 0:19, 10:15, 20:10; 17: 6:06, 16:02; 18: 1:57, 11:53, 21:48; 19: 7:44, 17:40; 20: 3:35, 13:31, 23:27; 21: 9:22, 19:18; 22: 5:14, 15:09; 23: 1:05, 11:01, 20:56; 24: 6:52, 16:48; 25: 2:43, 12:39, 22:35; 26: 8:30, 18:26; 27: 4:22, 14:17; 28: 0:13, 10:08, 20:04; 29: 6:00, 15:55; 30: 1:51, 11:47, 21:42; 31: 7:38, 17:34

22    In mid- to late afternoon, place your scope in the shadow of a building or other obstacle where you have a clear view of the sky 30° to 35° to the Sun’s left.

23    Mars, vastly dimmer at magnitude +1.5, is 7° above or upper right of Venus in bright twilight.

24    That’s about one field-of-view width in typical binoculars.

25    You’ll need them. Good luck.

26    Jupiter (magnitude –2.9, at the Pisces-Aquarius border) is two weeks past opposition. As twilight fades, Jupiter becomes very obvious low in the east-southeast. It shines high in the southeast by mid-evening, by far the brightest starlike point in the sky. It’s highest in the south around midnight daylight saving time.

27    Jupiter is having an unusually close apparition; it continues to appear 49 arcseconds wide through mid-October. (In fact this opposition was closer than any other of Jupiter from 1963 to 2022, though only 1% or 2% closer than in any year when opposition occurs from mid-August through October, including last year and next).

28    Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is near System II longitude 157°.

29    Red Spot Transits – November 1: 3:30, 13:25, 23:21; 2: 9:17, 19:12; 3: 5:08, 15:04; 4: 0:59, 10:55, 20:51; 5: 6:46, 16:42; 6: 2:38, 12:33, 22:29; 7: 8:25, 18:20; 8: 4:16, 14:12; 9: 0:08, 10:03, 19:59; 10: 5:55, 15:50; 11: 1:46, 11:42, 21:37; 12: 7:33, 17:29; 13: 3:25, 13:20, 23:16; 14: 9:12, 19:07; 15: 5:03, 14:59; 16: 0:55, 10:50, 20:46; 17: 6:42, 16:37; 18: 2:33, 12:29, 22:25; 19: 8:20, 18:16; 20: 4:12, 14:08; 21: 0:03, 9:59, 19:55; 22: 5:50, 15:46; 23: 1:42, 11:38, 21:33; 24: 7:29, 17:25; 25: 3:21, 13:16, 23:12; 26: 9:08, 19:04; 27: 4:59, 14:55; 28: 0:51, 10:47, 20:42; 29: 6:38, 16:34; 30: 2:30, 12:25, 22:21

30    Saturn is hidden behind the glare of the Sun.

31    Uranus (magnitude 5.7) is 1½° to 2° east of Jupiter this week.

32    Neptune (magnitude 7.8, at the Aquarius-Capricornus border) is well placed earlier in the evening.

33    Pluto (magnitude 14.0, in northwestern Sagittarius) is still fairly high in the south-southwest right after dark, and the evening sky is free of moonlight this week.