Greetings everyone! Although not everyone who reads this column goes out and looks at the sky, there is one thing most of us notice — when all the evening daylight goes away.
We lost 20 minutes of evening daylight in September. On Sept. 1, the sun set at 6:32 p.m. On Oct. 1, the sun disappeared at 6:12 p.m. By the end of this month, the sun will set at 5:55 p.m., 37 minutes earlier than it did at the beginning of September.
Of course, sunrise doesn’t change much; we’ll lose only five minutes of morning daylight in October. We lose all the morning daylight in December and January.
Mercury has entered our early morning sky and will reach its maximum distance above the eastern horizon tomorrow morning. Go outside between 5:15 and 5:30 and face due east. That bright star close to the horizon isn’t a star, it’s Mercury.
Then lie down with your feet facing east and look straight up. You’ll have a marvelous view of Orion the Hunter and a fist-width to the left of Orion’s shoulders, you’ll see a bright red star. It isn’t a star, it’s Mars.
You can also see Jupiter close to the western horizon, but probably the best time to see both Jupiter and Saturn is in the evening sky. The waxing moon will be close to Jupiter tomorrow evening.
Full moon is Monday, and October’s full moon is called the Hunter’s Moon. Since the moon will be in our early evening sky all weekend, it’s a good time to look for some bright things.
Even though it’s now officially autumn, the Summer Triangle is easy to spot almost straight overhead. That bright star a couple of finger-widths from straight up is Altair, the brightest star in Aquilla the Eagle.
Two fist-widths to the left of Altair (toward the north) you’ll find Vega and Deneb. Vega is the fifth-brightest star and should be easy to spot. Deneb, the third star of the Summer Triangle is two fist-widths below Vega.
The Big Dipper has disappeared from our early evening sky except for a couple of tail stars, but you can still see bright red Arcturus, the fourth-brightest star, close to the western horizon at 7:10, one hour after sunset.
To the left of Arcturus and due west, if your sky is clear, you may be able to spot Scorpius the Scorpion. The fishhook is lying on its side two fist-widths above the southwestern horizon with the teapot of Sagittarius the Archer above the hook (or Scorpion’s tail).
Although the moon’s light may hide it from you this week, the Milky Way, the galaxy you live in, shoots up from the horizon below the Scorpion and passes almost straight overhead.
The moon will be gone from our early evening sky next week, and I hope we have clear skies. Guam’s sky is an awesome sight and I’ll tell you all about it!
Pam Eastlick was the coordinator for the former University of Guam planetarium since the early 1990s. She has been writing this weekly astronomy column since 2003. Send any questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will forward them to her.