Monday 25th to Sunday 31st October 2021
On the morning of Monday 25th October, Mercury is at its greatest elongation or in other words the planet appears to be the furthest it gets from the Sun. If you look just south of east from about 6.15am, Mercury will have risen above the horizon. To the left of Mercury, slightly north of east will be the bright star Arcturus.
Please remember that if you are using binoculars or a telescope, make sure you don't catch even a glimpse of the Sun rising an hour later.
Moving towards the end of the week and the evening shift, on Friday 29th a "Last Quarter" Moon will have risen above the horizon in the east by 1am. If you look slightly down and to the right of the Moon, have a go at spotting the Beehive Cluster - M44 in the Messier Catalogue.
The Beehive Cluster is the closest open star cluster to the Earth and it was first observed by Galileo back in 1609. He managed to resolve 40 stars with his early telescope. Charles Messier added it to his catalogue of faint deep sky objects in 1769, but the cluster is relatively bright and many believe that he only did this to boost the number in his catalogue in competition with his rival, the French astronomer Nicolas-Louis Lacaille.
The cluster has a magnitude of around 3.7 so is best viewed with binoculars or a small telescope. The cluster is estimated to be around 600 million years old and approximately 600 light years away from us. That means the light you will be observing left the stars 600 years ago and you are seeing the cluster how it was back in the 1400s when Henry V was on the throne!
Screenshots courtesy of Stellarium
Copyright Adrian Dening and Radio Ninesprings 2021