Glossop Starwatch: Gawpin’ Up with Davie Jones

Although somewhat light polluted, the skies over Glossop can still offer the amateur astronomer plenty to wonder at. Whether you are a visual observer or a keen imager, weather permitting, there is always something to aim your telescope or binoculars towards the heavens for. Of course, you don't actually need any optical aid to start stargazing, you just need to look up at the night sky and start to learn your way around. A star atlas, such as Sky & Telescope Pocket Sky Atlas would be a great help. Click below to learn more about October star gazing.

Look East in the early hours before dawn on October 12 and you should see a beautiful waning crescent moon close to the bright planet Venus, as the sun approaches the horizon and the sky turns from dark blue to light, the Crescent Moon and Venus should remain easily visible.

Autumn is well and truly upon us and this means all the familiar constellations are taking their turn once again, Orion, the Hunter, with the red supergiant Betelgeuse and his belt of three stars, follows behind Taurus the bull, who's head is formed by the open cluster Hyades, where lies the red giant Aldeberan.
M-42, the Great Nebula in Orion, by Davie Jones
Of course, we mustn't forget M-45, the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, one of the most beautiful open clusters in our sky; viewed through binoculars or a low power telescope, the Pleiades are quite wonderful.

On the 18th October, around Sunset and just after, an early waxing crescent Moon could easily woo you in the Western sky. Slightly below and to the right of the crescent Moon, you may just make out the planet Mars, who will soon disappear from our skies for a while as he goes behind the Sun.

One of the year’s best meteor showers occurs in October, the Orionids. Last year they were thwarted by a bright, gibbous moon, as were most meteor showers, but this year’s Orionids are set against a waxing crescent Moon, which shouldn't wash out the sky too much, and will set early enough to not be too much of a nuisance. Wrap up warm, find a dark place, away from street lights, get comfortable and enjoy one of nature’s free shows. Orion will be rising in the East around 11pm,    the Orionid meteors 'appear' to originate from Orion, but they can be seen in any part of the sky around Orion. Peak of the shower is 21st October, but start looking from the night of the 19th, be patient; once you see one, then you will notice more and more, you may be lucky enough to see a bright Earth grazer, or 'Bolide'.

Also in Orion, in the 'sword' you can see a fuzzy star, this is M-42, the Great Nebula in Orion. You should be able to make out M-42 with the naked eye and with binoculars. With a small telescope it becomes very clear that this is no ordinary star. M-42 is an area of condensing gases where new stars are forming, some of the youngest stars yet known.
Jupiter is present in Taurus, looking like a bright star to the naked eye. With a small telescope the four Galilean moons are easily visible and if you have access to a more powerful instrument you can make out the equatorial bands and even the giant red spot.

DAVIE JONES