Bright October Stars
This time of year, some of the brightest stars hug the horizon. Let’s review which of those stars you can see in the night sky this week.
Orange Arcturus is the brightest star in Boötes (the Ploughman). The eye-catching magnitude 0.15 star twinkles brightly, low in the western sky after sunset. It’s the fourth brightest star in the night sky, globally.
The white star Fomalhaut shines in Piscis Austrinus (the Southern Fish). Look for that star sitting low over the southern horizon. It’s nearly overhead for observers at low latitudes. Fomalhaut is only the 18th brightest star, but dominates in its sparse celestial neighbourhood. It’s also the first star to have an exo-planet directly imaged.
In early evening, bright, yellow Capella sits low in the northeastern sky, ready to begin its nightly passage of the heavens. Sun-like Capella precedes the great starry ring of its constellation Auriga (the Charioteer) and is the sixth brightest star in the heavens. You can observe Arcturus, Fomalhaut and Capella on any night this week.
On Thursday, October 17, after dark, find the red giant star Aldebaran close to the waning gibbous Moon. The pair will be visible above the southern horizon in the constellation of Taurus. Aldebaran is the brightest star in this constellation.
Finally, the three bright, blue-white stars of the Summer Triangle, namely Deneb, Vega, and Altair, are still flying high overhead.