Exploring the wonders of the Universe

Join us again as we once tour our universe. Here are a few highlights you can witness in the coming weeks.

October 20: Full moon (16:57). The face of the moon will be fully illuminated. This is not a good time to view astronomical highlights, as the bright moon will obscure fainter objects.

October 21: Orionids Meteor Shower. This major shower (+/- 30 meteors per hour at peak) is produced by dust grains left behind by Halley’s Comet. This year it will peak after midnight, but due to the full moon, only the brightest meteors will be visible.

October 25 - Mercury at Western Elongation (06:59). The planet closest to our sun will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. You can spot Mercury easily low above the horizon in the east just before sunrise.

October 29: Venus at Eastern Elongation (23:59). The planet Venus will be true to its colloquial name “Evening Star”. Venus will be at its highest point above the horizon in the evening sky and can be easily spotted after sunset.

November 4: New Moon (23:15). The moon will not be visible in the night sky, making it the best time of the month to view faint objects.

November 5: Southern Taurids Meteor Shower: This minor shower (+/- 10 meteors per hour at peak) runs annually from October 1 until November 25. This year it will peak between 21:30 and 3:30. Due to the New Moon, meteors should be easily visible.

Planet visibility: In October and November, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn will be visible at dusk. At dawn only Mars can be easily spotted.
Focus point: Once again, Astronomers have embarked on the search for the elusive “Planet 9”, according nbc news. The search is led by Astronomer Michael Brown, a professor at the California Institute of Technology, who led the campaign that demoted Pluto in 2006 from the ninth planet in our solar system to one of many dwarf planets. For years, astronomers have been searching for planet 9 - a planet many times the size of the Earth that might orbit the sun far beyond Neptune.

Much information contained herein stems from the Sky Guide Africa South, a handbook which is published by the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa every year.