The night sky in October

A total lunar eclipse began the month which also includes a partial solar eclipse and Mars meeting a comet.

  • Fri Oct 10th, 2014 2:00pm
  • News

A total lunar eclipse began the month which also includes a partial solar eclipse and Mars meeting a comet.

On the morning of Oct. 8. the moon entered Earth’s deep shadow for the second lunar eclipse of the year at 2:15 a.m.

Two weeks later, a partial solar eclipse will be visible in the late afternoon. The deepest eclipse, where the moon’s silhouette extends nearly all the way across the sun, will be visible far to the north in the Canadian Arctic. But here in Oak Bay, the dark silhouette will cover about half the sun in the late afternoon. Remember: Never look directly at the sun. You can learn more about solar and lunar eclipses at eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov.

Mars and Comet Siding Spring are moving closer to each other this month.

On Oct. 19, the comet and the planet pass within 81,000 miles of one another. You may be able to spot the comet leading up to, and after, the 19th. You’ll need an unobstructed view of the south-southwestern horizon just after sunset. Look towards Port Angeles and try to spot Mars first. It’s to the upper left of the orange star Antares, near the horizon at about 7:30 p.m. Then, use your binoculars to scan for the comet.

Even using amateur telescopes, Comet Siding Spring may be just too faint to see. If it’s not visible at Cattle Point, the comet will be visible to the NASA missions currently at Mars. They hope to return images which you will be able to see on the Internet. You can learn all about Comet Siding Spring’s encounter with Mars at mars.nasa.gov/comets/sidingspring.

Summary courtesy astronomer Jane Houston Jones, solarsystem.nasa.gov.