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The Sky this Month

MAS Sky this month

What's in the night sky this month ?

The 'fixed' stars will appear in the same locations year after year (note 1). Some astronomical events - such as meteor showers - also repeat from year to year (even if the 'peak' date of a meteor shower varies somewhat) whilst other astronomical objects, such as the planets and Comets, have orbital periods that don't follow Earth's annual cycle at all. So these pages focus on the main Constellations, whilst other events can be found on the Events page


Note 1. In fact, due to the precession of the Earths axis, positions of the Constellations don't repeat exactly from one year to the next. Fortunately, in the context of "What's in the sky this month ?", this 'slippage' (which is 1 degree every 71.6 years) can be ignored (it taking 25,772 years to complete one revolution). So, if this had been written down some 2,200 years ago, at the time when the 'Sun signs' were defined, everything would have 'shifted' by some 30 degrees (or one 'Zodiac' constellation) and these pages would make as much sense today as that Astrology nonsense :-)

Running the Stellarium scripts (.ssc)

Our monthly sky Stellarium 'scripts', {date}-WhatsOn.ssc, were designed to run with Stellarium V10.1 but should 'work' with almost any version. To run the scrip on your own computer, start by downloading the script = 'right click' the link and use 'Save link as'. Next drag the .ssc file to the to the '\scripts' sub-directory of the installed Stellarium program directory (i.e. C:\Program Files\Stellarium\scripts).

To run the script, launch Stellarium, open the 'Configuration' menu dialog and go to the 'Scripts' tab. A list of available scripts will be shown in the list box on the left side. You select a script by clicking on it as usual and details (about that script) will then be shown in the panel on the right side. To run the selected script, click the 'run script' button (the icon that looks like a DVD player 'Play' button). For more Stellarium scripts, visit the Stellarium.org/wiki page

Note, before running a script it's a 'good idea' to disable the on-screen 'information' (Configuration, Information tab, set 'Selected Object information' = 'none')

(+) 03 March

(+) 04 April

(+) 05 May

(+) 06 June

(+) 07 July

(+) 08 August

(+) 09 September

(-) 10 October

Meteors this month The Draconids peak Oct 7/8. 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, the parent comet of this shower, passed through perihelion in Feb 2012 resulting in a peak of 100/Hr in 2012, however 2013 was much less exciting. The radiant, in 'Draco the Dragon', at RA 17h23m, Dec +57, lies near the head of Draco which is quite high in the sky at the start of the night, so this is one where you don't have to stay up until dawn ! Not only that, but Draconid meteors are relatively slow moving so are easier to see. Photo: ../Sky_this_month/photos/Oct_orionid_radiant.jpgThe Orionids, from around Oct 14 to the end of the month peaking on 21st. A broad maximum occurs between Oct 21 and Oct 23 - however, even within this period there will probably be several peaks and troughs in the activity levels. The result of the Earth's pre-perihelion encounter with the meteoroid stream of comet 1P/Halley, occasionally surprises with high rates seen eg 2006 Oct 21-22 and again in 2008 and 2009.

The radiant is approx RA 06h24m , Dec +15, on the border of Gemini and Orion, however it consists a number of 'sub-centres', as shown in the photo right. The combined activity can give the impression of the radiant remaining almost stationary for several days. The Orionid radiant does not rise until mid evening and is highest in the sky late in the night.

Good news for 2014 is that New Moon occurs on Oct 23, so the peak nights (21-23) will not suffer moonlight interference.

Photo: ../Sky_this_month/photos/October.jpgThe sky (looking South) this month.

(click the sky map, left, for a larger view)

The Stellarium script presented at Octobers meeting can be downloaded (using 'right click' and 'Save link as') :-
Oct. 2014
Oct. 2016
(note = built for Stellarium 10.4)


This note last modified: 25th Nov 2016 10:37.

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(+) 11 November

(+) 12 December

(+) 01 January

(+) 02 February

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