The October Night Sky

To learn the October night sky, we begin with a computer generated map of the sky. This map (below) shows the stars as tiny spots of light. The size of the spot indicates the star's brightness.

Chart of October Sky

This map shows the stars you would see if you looked south on a clear October night at about 8 PM from most of the US. The left edge of the image is about southeast. The right edge is about southwest. The top of the image is about overhead.

The orange bar at the bottom is about the width of your spread hand at arms length and may help give you a sense of scale.

If you move the mouse over the map, the outline of some of the constellations appear along with their names and the names of a few of the brighter stars.

Now move the mouse off the map. Can you recall where Delphinus lies and what its shape is? (Move the mouse back to refresh your memory.)

Work though the constellations and stars listed below, noting where each is with respect to the others and how it looks. For each, first look at the marked chart and then find it on the unmarked chart.

Notice that the southern sky in October has few relatively conspicuous constellations. Looking east, however, we see a more interesting and brighter set of stars.

Chart of October Sky - looking East

In the eastern sky, find and learn

You may note that constellations near the edges of the map look tilted compared to how they look on the adjoining map. That is the result of trying to show a curved surface (the night sky) on a flat screen.

Finally, imagine turning yourself to face north and look at the sky around the celestial pole.

Chart of October Sky - looking North

Here you can see the Big and Little Dippers, Polaris (the North Star), and Cassiopeia

Copyright T. Arny, UMass, Amherst, MA, USA 01003
Tom Arny
Last modified: Tue Sep 24 18:10:39 EDT 2002