Published: 2016-10-31 11:58:10
Updated: 2016-10-31 11:58:10
Posted October 31
By Tony Rice
Dusk falls (end of civil twilight) tonight at 6:45. The new moon makes for a very dark sky, so equip your trick or treaters with a flashlight and make sure they are otherwise easy for motorists to see.
That dark sky is great for sidewalk astronomy. If you have a telescope gathering dust under a bed or in a closet somewhere, get it out and enjoy the night sky. You don't have to be an expert to share either. I like to have a step stool handy for smaller trick-or-treaters and a card table to set plastic pumpkins or masks while looking through the telescope.
Venus will be very bright in the southwestern sky setting after 8 p.m. Up and to the right of Venus, dimmer Saturn will also be visible. You can make out Saturn’s rings even in an inexpensive telescope.
Mars will be visible in orange about a third of the way up the southern sky, setting in the southwest around 11 p.m.
You might even see a meteor from the Northern Taurid meteor shower currently underway.
While the International Space Station will not be visible tonight, the Chinese one will. Between 7 and 8 p.m., you may also spot space junk from 45+ years of spy satellite launches.
If your skies are darker you may notice other man-made objects moving through the sky during the hour or two before sunrise and after sunset. Generally speaking, if a dim point of light is moving and you don't see any flashing lights, it’s probably a satellite, not an aircraft.