Starwalks: The Archer
The month of October will bring a lovely show of the planets Saturn, Mercury, Venus, Moon and Mars on October 8. The zodiacal constellations of Aquarius and Pisces are rather dim, with the brightest star now on the eastern horizon the reddish star Fomalhaut, the Mouth of the Fish in Pisces Australis, low to the SE at sunset. In 3000 BCE it was one of the Persian Royal Stars and marked the winter solstice and later one of three stars of Dante’s Tres Facelle of ‘Purgatorio.’ To the northeast, appearing like a tower, the bright stars of Perseus the Hero are already visible on the horizon, with Mirfak, the brightest in the middle of three. Slightly to the right of these, the eclipsing binary Algol, the blinking eye of the Demon, the head of Medusa, will rise at sunset. When this star is overhead at 3:18 AM, the planet Mars will rise on the eastern horizon close to Regulus, another Royal Star in the Lion which marked the same era’s summer solstice. However, the brightest show will be Saturn joined with Mercury on the western horizon, close to the two stars of the Balance, while the crescent Moon will join with Venus and Antares to form a triangle at 7:00 PM. At 8:20 to the northwest, the bright star Capella will rise to the left of Perseus, followed by the fuzzy white cloud of the Pleiades at 8:38, heralding the return of Taurus and Orion.
A current resident in Pie Town, Thea Marshall has lived in NM for 34 years, and enjoys writing, her horse, and the stars.