Adrian Dening's Stars Over Somerset

    Monday 3rd to Sunday 9th October 2022

    If you venture outside just after dark on Wednesday 5th, there is an opportunity to see Saturn with an 80%-lit waxing Gibbous Moon just below it. By around 9pm, the pair will be located towards the south.

    If you go back outside at the same time a few days later, on Saturday 8th, then a 98%-lit waxing Gibbous Moon will be towards the south east, just below Jupiter.

    The Full Moon occurs the following evening, on Sunday 9th. When talking about the phases of the Moon caused by Sunlight hitting its surface at different angles as it orbits around us, "waxing" and "waning" are old English words meaning "getting stronger or increasing in brightness" and "becoming weaker or decreasing in brightness". So the Moon is "waxing" as it heads towards a Full Moon when it is then 100%-lit and "waning" as it moves towards a New Moon.

    If early morning astronomy is more your thing, then there are several treats awaiting you around 6am on Saturday 8th. To the east, Mercury will be rising above the horizon. The planet is at its greatest elongation or in other words, the furthest it gets away from Sun. At the same time, the constellation of Orion with Betelgeuse and Rigel will be towards the south, with the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius, just below it and planet Mars a little above the constellation.

    Please remember that if you are tempted to use binoculars or a telescope to get a better view of Mercury, you must be very careful that you do not catch even a glimpse of the Sun as it rises shortly afterwards!

    To learn more about the Moon's phases or general astronomy, why not come along to one of my Stars Over Somerset lectures at Ham Hill on 21st October and 18th November. Details are at starsoversomerset.com

    Moon phase diagram courtesy of Wikipedia

    Screenshots courtesy of Stellarium

    Copyright Adrian Dening and Radio Ninesprings 2022

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