Mon-Fri 9am-5pm
Saturday 9am-6pm
Sunday 11am-6pm
Tonight's Sky - Kirkpatrick Planetarium at Science Museum Oklahoma
Tonight's Sky - Kirkpatrick Planetarium at Science Museum Oklahoma

Red Dirt Astronomy

Whether your passion is for the Red Dirt of Oklahoma or that of the Red Planet

Here's your guide to the stars this month!

Explore the night sky each month with Kirkpatrick Planetarium Director Tom Arnold! Each month Tom will provide a sky chart, created using Digistar Technology, and a viewing guide with labeled constellations that are visible from inside Oklahoma City. You’ll be able to locate which prominent stars and planets are located in the evening sky and learn about the month’s astronomical events.
 
Tom has had a life-long passion for the night sky, with his early fascination leading to a professional career in astronomy. Whether you consider yourself an astronomer or not, we hope that by exploring Oklahoma’s night sky and learning how to identify stars and constellations, you find a similar sense of wonder. Below you will find information to discover our universe, just by looking up. 
 
Join Tom and our other planetarium educators for live planetarium shows daily!

To use the monthly star chart, hold the chart overhead, with the chart’s north marker pointing north.

Download the chart!

Photo of The Milky Way

The Sky in October

Wed. 6th New Moon
Wed. 13th First Quarter Moon
Thurs. 14th Saturn north of the Moon
Fri. 15th Jupiter slightly north of the Moon
Wed. 20th Full Moon
Thurs. 21st Orionid meteor peak and Full Moon
Thurs. 28th Last Quarter Moon

 

 

 

Saturn - Tonight's Sky - Kirkpatrick Planetarium

The Planets in October

Mercury – The planet is too close to the sun this month to be seen.

Venus- Although Venus is out of the sun’s glare this month, its position in the sky makes it very unfavorable for observation during October in the northern hemisphere.

Mars – Like Mercury, Mars is too close to the sun for observation in October.

Jupiter- Very bright in the southern sky after sunset, the planet remains in Aquarius. It is easily spotted by looking south to find the brightest “star” in the sky after the suns glow has ended.

Saturn- Following the ecliptic west, the path of the sun-moon & planets across the sky, we find Saturn for October. It will be dimmer than Jupiter, but easily visible even in city lights. A small telescope will reveal its amazing rings as it shines within the constellation of Capricorn.

Uranus/Neptune- Using the finder charts provided last month for Uranus and Neptune, both planets can be found. They remain in the same relative positions as previously described. Like September, October remains the month of the gas giants!

Object of the Month

The deep sky is filled with amazing and often beautiful objects. Difficult to find and hard to see, even these objects can teach us a lot about our world. For example, the blue color outlining the figure of a fairytale witch is caused by the same phenomena that makes our daytime sky blue. The cosmos is filled with “dusty” areas. But the dust here inhabits an extreme vacuum environment. Yet it follows the same rules of physics as our atmosphere. The blue color is caused by the reflection of blue light from the nearby super giant blue star Rigel. Like our atmospheric dust, space dust reflects blue light much better than red light and is the reason for our blue sky.

This particular object is believed to be the remains of a star that exploded, a supernova. Lying about 900 light years from Earth, the dust cloud is comprised of carbon monoxide along with other molecular forms in this vast star forming region around the constellation of Orion. The protrusions forming the “nose” & “mouth” are caused by the intense shock waves and interstellar “winds” from some nearby hyperactive, blue, stars.    

Orionid Meteors

For observers of the Orionid meteors this year, the full moon will greatly limit what will be visible. Under ideal conditions, a dark, moonless, sky and far from city lights, it might be possible to see 20 meteors per hour from this shower. Appearing to radiate from the constellation of Orion, the best viewing time would be midnight and after.  Looking slightly south of east, an observer might be able to see a bright Orionid even with the full moon. Like all meteor showers, this one was created by the remains of a comet passing the orbit of the Earth. However, this comet was the most famous of all, Halley’s Comet, which last passed Earth in 1986!