***This date has been changed, previously October 14.***

9pm – 11pm             Lunar, Deep Sky, and outer planet observing

The moon will be at First Quarter phase tonight, and both Uranus and Neptune will be well positioned for viewing. No bright major planets will be visible.

Graphics above courtesy of Starry Night (R) Orion Special Edition, Version: 6.2.3 kcEW, Imaginova (R) Corp.

Some of the moons shown above may be visible in the 20″ refractor, but they are very faint. Triton is the brightest at magnitude 13.5, the others are fainter at 14th magnitude or less. Uranus and Neptune will both show as planets in the 20″, in other words round objects with a visible size, not just pinpoints of light. Both planets have a beautiful, but somewhat different, blue-green color. Triton has a diameter of 1,700 miles, compared to Earth’s moon at 2,159 miles.

Deep-sky Objects

The center of the Milky Way galaxy has already set in the west this time of year, but many interesting deep-sky objects are still visible.

Planetary Nebulae

Have nothing to do with planets, being the remnants of sun-like stars that have ejected their outer layers at the end of their hydrogen-fusing lifetimes. In some cases the central star, in the process of becoming a white dwarf, is visible. They are all different and have descriptive popular names, the following are possible to observe tonight: Saturn Nebula (NGC 7009), Ring Nebula (M57), Dumbell Nebula (M27), Blinking Planetary (NGC 6826), and the Blue Snowball (NGC 7662). Many are relatively easy to observe because they have a high surface brightness.

The Ring Nebula and Blinking Planetary are shown here, imaged with an astro-video camera on an 8″ telescope, often set up for public viewing at Van Vleck. The images can be seen in “real-time” on a monitor.

As a comparison, the Ring Nebula image below was assembled and processed by Rob Gendler, an ASGH member, using data from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Large Binocular Telescope, and the 8.2 meter Subaru Telescope. Please visit his amazing website.

Star Clusters

Several Globular Clusters, such as M15 below, will be visible. They orbit the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and are typically 20,000 to 30,000 light years distant.

Many Open Clusters are in the vicinity of the constellation Cassiopeia, one example is NGC 7789, otherwise known as Caroline’s Rose after it’s discoverer Caroline Herschel.


The brightest galaxy in the northern sky is well placed tonight; M31, the Andromeda Galaxy, 2 million light years distant. Not this much detail will be visible in a telescope, however, the M15 photo is representative of what could be seen in the 20″.

The M15 and M31 images are courtesy Joe Roberts, an ASGH member. See Joe’s also amazing website.