Back Garden Astronomy Guide – October
In the UK, far too many of us make the mistake of thinking our gardens are off-limits once Autumn rolls around, when in fact it’s the perfect time to get outside. As the early nights begin to cut in, October is ideal for a bit of garden star gazing, either with the naked eye or via a telescope.
To celebrate Astronomy Day, which takes place on October 5th, we’ve decided to highlight some of the more interesting constellations and celestial bodies to look out for while taking part in a bit of garden astronomy this month.
The Milky Way
This spiral-shaped galaxy is actually the place we call home. It contains hundreds of billions of stars, including our very own sun. The rest of the Milky Way spiral can be witnessed with the naked eye from the average UK back garden during the early evening, provided cloud cover conditions are ideal and light pollution is low. It’s home to all manner of constellations, which astrology fans will be familiar with – even if they’ve never enjoyed any back garden astronomy before!
Capricornus and Aquarius
Unfortunately, these constellations are difficult to make out with the naked eye alone and will require a telescope of some sort to pick out in detail. Capricornus and Aquarius can be spotted in the lower part of the sky and are the only objects of interest in this area that can be picked out with binoculars or a low-powered telescope. The best way to locate either of these constellations is to seek out the Water Jar section of Aquarius. It’s an instantly recognisable pattern of faint stars in the lower sky, and once you locate this the rest of the constellation becomes noticeable.
These stars can be easily picked out with the naked eye. Often mistaken for a single flickering star, Alpha and Beta Capricorni happen to be in a similar line of sight with one another. Alpha is approximately 100 light-years away, while Beta is almost 600 light-years away. With a telescope, it’s easy to distinguish each of these from the other.
On a clear evening, it can be a fun family activity to bring out a hot flask of tea, some blankets for warmth and maybe even some snacks to enjoy as you gaze skywards. Remember, you don’t merely have to enjoy your garden in the summer – dark nights, clear skies and bright stars provide ample opportunities for entertainment and wonderment in equal measure.