Space Junk; OCTOBER 2015


Photo Credit & Copyright: My attempt at imaging the 2,159 mile wide low albedo rock 240,000 miles away that’s lit by the nearly million mile wide fusion reactor 93 million miles away in the other direction. This was during September’s total lunar eclipse.

Below I have listed most of the major night sky events for this month, birthdays, events in history etc. I have also listed all resources used to generate these monthly calendars at the bottom of the post so dig in, learn and enjoy! Also; if you notice something that I didn’t add that you think should be here, or if something’s incorrect definitely let me know!

Here’s a list of major 2015 Celestial Events here:

Interested in Planetary Motions for 2015? Here ya go!:

How about Meteor Showers for 2015?

WERE YOU BORN ON A FULL MOON?! This great page from Moon Giant shows you what phase the Moon was in when you were born; check it out. (This may not work on your phone):

All dates and times were calculated using Military Time & Universal Time (UTC) and I also throw in eastern U.S. time (EST or EDT depending on whether its Daylight Savings or not) but beware, early morning events for UTC will actually likely be late night events on the previous date for the US. For example if something is scheduled to occur at 02:00 UTC on the 14th, that’s 21:00 EST on the 13th.

Another important thing to remember is that a calendar day is actually daylight sandwiched between two darks so when an event says, March 29 for example, you’ve got to check the time because March 29 could very well be in the morning before sunrise and not that coming night.

Finally, calculating events on the Moon is that it’s not as simple as “Ok it’s 40% illuminated so we should see this.” I wish it was that easy but because of libration, locations on the disk of the moon move slightly as we see them. One month an event could occur at 52% illumination and the next month it could occur at 54% illumination etc.

OCTOBER 01 (Thu) – Entering the month the Moon is 19 days old in its 29.53 day Synodic Cycle and 84% illuminated in its waning gibbous phase.

October 1, 1924: Happy Birthday President Jimmy Carter.

October 1, 1958: Happy Birthday NASA!

October 1, 1985: Vandenberg AFB, CA Space Launch Complex-6 deemed ready for Space Shuttle flights.

October 2, 1921: Birth of X-15 pilot Scott Crossfield.

October 2, 1991: Final Soviet launch. TM-13 launched to MIR as Soviets and returned as Russians.

OCTOBER 03 (Sat) – The Moon reaches its Greatest Northern Declination of +18.08 degrees.

October 3, 1935: Happy Birthday to Apollo 16 astronaut, Charlie Duke.

October 3, 1962: Launch of Mercury Atlas 8; Wally Schirra in Sigma 7.

October 3, 1990: East and West Germany reunified.

October 4, 1957: Launch of Sputnik 1. The silver ball that changed the world.

October 4, 2004: Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne completes second spaceflight (Flight 17P) to claim the Ansari X-Prize.

OCTOBER 04 (Sun) – Last Quarter (3rd Quarter) Moon occurs this month at 21:08 UTC (17:08 EDT). Though the quarters of the Moon occur at exact times, as far as viewing goes you can call it the entire night and be close enough.

OCTOBER 05 (Sat) – The brilliant Walther Sunset Ray will occur around 22:27 UTC (16:27 EDT). Located in the ancient 145 kilometer (90 mile) Necterian age crater named Walther (Formerly Walter or Valtherus) is a special treat that occurs monthly for a matter of a few hours when illumination is around 44%. On the western rim of the crater there’s a notch and when the Sun is setting low on the lunar horizon (When the crater is near the terminator) light penetrates the notch, creating a vast triangle or “V” shaped light ray across the craters floor that ends as it illuminates the central peak of the crater. Walther Crater a heavily eroded crater located in the Lunar Southern Highlands at the Selenographic Coordinates (Definition below) of Latitude: 33.1°S / Longitude: 1.0°E. It’s named after German astronomer Bernhard Walther. This crater also has a sunrise ray that instead of a light ray is a long shadow cast by the central peak.

October 5, 1958: Happy Birthday Neil Degrasse Tyson.

October 5, 1882: Birth of Robert Goddard.

October 5, 1929: Happy Birthday Dick Gordon of Gemini 11 and Apollo 12.

October 5, 1966: Happy Birthday Sean Carroll.

OCTOBER 05 (Mon) – Pico Mons Sunset.  The day of or day after last quarter (around 50% illuminated) the setting Sun hits Pico Mons in Mare Imbrium, near Crater Plato and casts a long shadow along the lunar plains.

OCTOBER 05 (Mon) – Sunset on the lunar scarp; Rupes Recta or the “Straight Wall” is visible about the day of or day after last quarter (about 45-50% illuminated) the setting Sun causes it to look white as it illuminates the slope.  Two weeks later, during lunar sunrise after first quarter it will appear black.

OCTOBER 06 (Tue) – 19 (Mon) As of Tuesday the 6th we are on the verge of October’s new moon (Lunation 1148). This week presents nights that are the absolute BEST nights to get out and observe Deep Sky Objects (DSOs) because you won’t have to look through the spotlight that is the Moon. Night skies without the Moon are significantly more productive for viewing and photography ANY night sky object (besides the Moon itself of course). For the lucky ones, this week offers the amazing spectacle of the extreme crescent moon, both waning in the east & waxing in the west.

OCTOBER 06 (Tue) – The CURTISS CROSS, is a creation of shadows throughout craters Gambart and Parry which create an “X” shaped formation and will occur around 03:45 UTC (23:45 EDT on the 6th).  The Curtiss Cross is associated with the third (last) quarter Moon and forms about 14 hours past the third quarter mark.

October 7, 1969: Happy Birthday Karen Nyberg.

October 7, 1906: Birth of NASA Administrator James Webb.

October 7, 1885: Birth of Danish physicist Niels Bohr.

October 8, 2012: SpaceX CRS-1.

October 9, 1999: Final flight of the SR-71.

October 10, 1958: Happy Birthday John Grunsfeld.

October 10, 1962: Happy Birthday Rex Walheim.

OCTOBER 11 (Sun) – The Moon reaches Ascending Node at 10:54 UTC (06:54 EDT).

OCTOBER 11 (Sun) – Apogee Moon occurs at 13:18 UTC (09:18 EDT) where the Moon is at its furthest point from Earth in its current orbit and will be subtending at 29’ arc minutes from a distance of 406,388 km (252,518 mi).

October 11, 1958: 11 day old NASA launches first satellite (Pioneer 1).

October 11, 1984: Soviet Union hits STS-41-G Challenger with the Terra-3 anti-satellite laser.

October 11, 1984: 1st American female spacewalk (STS-41-G Kathryn Sullivan).

October 11, 1968: Launch of Apollo 7. 1st manned launch of Project Apollo and 1st NASA crew of 3.

October 11, 1936: Birth of C. Gordon Fullerton.

OCTOBER 12 (Mon) – New Moon (LUNATION 1148) occurs at 23:59 UTC (19:59 EDT). Though the quarters of the Moon occur at exact times, as far as viewing goes you can call it the entire night and be close enough.

October 13, 1969: 1st triple spaceflight. 3 Soyuz launches in one day.

October 13, 1775: Happy Birthday U.S. NAVY.

October 14, 1947: General Chuck Yeager becomes the 1st to break the sound barrier in the orange Bell X-1.

October 14, 1890: Birth of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

October 14, 2012: Felix Baumgartner breaks Joe Kittinger’s highest skydive record with Red Bull Stratos (now broken).

OCTOBER 15 (Thu) My single favorite phase of the Moon occurs around 95 % illumination just after full phase. I call it the “Full Crater Chain” and it’s when the terminator runs right through Mare Crisium. The chain runs up through Cleomedes, Burckhardt, Geminus, Messala, Endymion and even more impressively below Crisium through Langrenus, Vendelinus, Petavius and Furnerius. If you catch it just right you can enjoy a secondary treat as Petavius’s central peak becomes illuminated and shines alone in the darkness of the crater itself. (NOTE: With libration it may not form properly month to month.).

October 15, 2003: China launches Shenzou V becoming the 3rd nation to launch humans into space.

October 17, 1933: Birth of Apollo 8 astronaut, Bill Anders.

OCTOBER 18 (Sun) – The Moon is at its Greatest Southern Declination of -18.11 degrees.

OCTOBER 20 (Tue) – LUNAR-X also known as the PURBACH or WERNER CROSS is scheduled to begin forming the “X” around 14:00 UTC (10:00 EDT). The Lunar-X is the big, more prominent brother to the Curtiss Cross. This “X” is created by shadowing throughout the rims and ridges of craters LaCaille, Blanchinus and Purbach. The “X” formations occur along the terminator (where “day” meets “night” across the Moon).  It typically begins just after first quarter when the Moon is approximately 53% illuminated.

October 20, 1891: Birth of English physicist, Sir. James Chadwick.

OCTOBER 21 (Mon) – MAGINUS SUNRISE RAY will occur around 09:46 UTC (05:46 EDT). At the right times and as the Sun rises over the Crater Maginus (Near the terminator) a beautiful sun ray shines through a break in the craters eastern wall. The result is a vast triangle or “V” formation of light cast upon the crater floor for a period of a few hours. Maginus Crater (Named after Italian astronomer Giovanni Antonio Magini) is a pre-Nectarian impact crater located in the southern lunar highlands and to the south east of Tycho Crater. It’s 110 miles (177km.) and has been extremely eroded by subsequent impacts on or near the site through the millennia. Its selenographic coordinates (Definition below) are Latitude: 50.5°S / Longitude: 6.3°W.

OCTOBER 21 (Wed) – Pico Mons Sunrise occurs the night of or the night after first quarter (around 62% illuminated) the rising Sun hits Pico Mons in Mare Imbrium, near Crater Plato and casts a long shadow along the lunar plains.

OCTOBER 21 (Wed) – Sunrise on the lunar scarp; Rupes Recta or the “Straight Wall” is visible the night of or the night after first quarter (around 60% illuminated) the rising Sun causes it to look black as its shadow is cast.  Two weeks later, during lunar sunset it will appear white.

October 21, 1833: Birth of Alfred Nobel.

October 22, 1975: Venera 9 lands on Venus and becomes the first to return images from the surface of another planet.

October 24: Russian launch blackout day.

October 24, 2014: Google Exec. Alan Eustace breaks Felix Baumgartner’s highest skydive.

OCTOBER 25 (Fri) – The Moon reaches Descending Node at 07:07 UTC (03:07 EDT).

OCTOBER 26 (Mon) – Perigee Moon occurs at 13:00 UTC (09:00 EDT) and is when the Moon is at its closest point to Earth in its orbit. It will be subtending at 33’arc minutes from a distance of 358,463 km (221,739 mi).

OCTOBER 27 (Tue) – First Quarter Moon is the Moon watchers paradise. Occurring at 12:05 UTC (08:05 EDT), First Quarter Moons and the waxing crescent phase leading up to it offer some of the most visually stunning views the Moon has to offer. Most of us will take the beautiful curves, valleys and shadows of a 1st Quarter Moon over a Full Moon ANY day. Though the quarters of the Moon occur at exact times, as far as viewing goes you can call it the entire night and be close enough.

OCTOBER 27 (Tue) – The Full Moon will occur at 12:06 UTC (08:06 EDT). Though the quarters of the Moon occur at exact times, as far as viewing goes you can call it the entire night and be close enough. (Name information provided by The Farmer’s Almanac).  Full Hunter’s Moon or Full Harvest Moon: This full Moon is often referred to as the Full Hunter’s Moon, Blood Moon, or Sanguine Moon. Many moons ago, Native Americans named this bright moon for obvious reasons. The leaves are falling from trees, the deer are fattened, and it’s time to begin storing up meat for the long winter ahead. Because the fields were traditionally reaped in late September or early October, hunters could easily see fox and other animals that come out to glean from the fallen grains. Probably because of the threat of winter looming close, the Hunter’s Moon is generally accorded with special honor, historically serving as an important feast day in both Western Europe and among many Native American tribes.

Full Moon Note: Many people actually find observing the Full Moon through a telescope or binoculars almost painful due to its brightness. One way that we curb this issue (at least in telescopes) is with neutral density filters. ND filters range anywhere from 20% light block to 80% light block and they’re pretty cheap. I don’t usually use them but I have a 50% on hand in the event someone needs it. Just be careful because for some companies, an ND25 means 25% of the light is blocked while some mean 25% of light passes through so make sure before you buy.

October 30, 1938: A Day of Panic. Orson Welles airs The War of the Worlds on national radio.

October 30, 1961: Happy Birthday Ron Garan.

October 30, 1964: Happy Birthday Sandy Magnus.

October 31, 1930: Birth of Apollo 11’s Michael Collins.

OCTOBER 31 (Sat) – Leaving the month the Moon is 19 days old in its 29.53 day Synodic Cycle and 80% illuminated in its waxing gibbous phase.

***Definition of LIBRATION (basically) – Is an oscillation of an orbiting body relative to another. OK, so…We know the Earth/Moon system is tidally locked so we always see the same side of the moon. Due to libration, we ACTUALLY see about 60% of the Moon instead of what you may intuitively think of as a 50% measurement. That’s because the Moon oscillates slightly as it rotates and orbits Earth. So, on occasion and with a keen eye we can see a little further “around the corner” north, south, east and west on the moon by a couple degrees.

***SUBTENDING Explained – Definition: The angle formed by an object at a given external point. The moon subtends an angle of approximately 0.54° (32 arc minutes) to an observer on the Earth. Of course, the moon’s orbit is not constant or exactly circular, so this varies a little, but not by very much. If you hold up your thumb at arm’s length, you can easily cover the full moon. This means your thumb subtends a larger angle to your eye at arm’s length than the moon does at 380,000 kilometers. In general, the closer you are to a particular object the larger that subtending angle.

***SELENOGRAPHIC COORDINATES Defined – Selenographic coordinates are used to refer to locations on the surface of Earth’s Moon. Any position on the lunar surface can be referenced by specifying two numerical values, which are comparable to the latitude and longitude of Earth. The longitude gives the position east or west of the Moon’s prime meridian, which is the line of longitude passing through the point on the lunar surface directly facing Earth. (See also Earth’s prime meridian.) This can be thought of as the midpoint of the visible Moon as seen from the Earth. The latitude gives the position north or south of the lunar equator. Both of these coordinates are given in terms of degrees. Astronomers defined the fundamental location in the selenographic coordinate system by the small, bowl-shaped satellite crater ‘Mösting A’. The coordinates of this crater are defined as: Latitude: 3° 12′ 43.2″ South / Longitude: 5° 12′ 39.6″ West. The coordinate system has become precisely defined due to the Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment. Anything past 90°E or 90°W would not be seen from Earth, except for libration, which makes 59% of the Moon visible.

NASA | Moon Phase & Libration Northern Hemisphere 2015:

NASA | Moon Phase & Libration Southern Hemisphere 2015:

2015 Moon phases with TIMES:

2015 Moon phase & illumination calendar:

2015 Perigee & Apogee DATES, TIMES & DISTANCES as well as Full & New Moon dates & times (John Walker’s Fourmilab):

2015 Perigee & Apogee:

Lunar Ray predictions:

Farmer’s Almanac Full Moon Names:


Greatest NORTHERN & SOUTHERN Declinations of the Moon (Richard Nolle’s Astro Pro):

FULL YEAR of Lunar Cycles: Previous and Future years as well:

Full & New Moon Calendar:

Sun/Moon Rise & Set times:

Sun/Moon Rise & Set times for the DAY:

Sun/Moon Rise & Set times for the YEAR:

BLUE MOON Calendar:

SUPERMOON Calendar (Richard Nolle’s Astro Pro):

Moon Phases for ANY date:


Moon right NOW:

Moon right NOW:

Moon right NOW:

NASA JPL Ephemeris Calculator:

Lunar Ephemeris Calculator:


Sunrise & Sunset CHART:

Kilometers (km) to miles (mi.) converter:

2015 Astronomical Events:

Occult Software:

Greatest Elongations of Mercury & Venus:

Steve Preston’s Asteroid Occultations:

US Naval Observatory Celestial Phenomena for 2015:

Seiichi Yoshida’s Weekly bright Comets:

International Meteor Organizations 2015 Information:

Satellite Tracking:

NASA Eclipses:

S&T Jupiter 2015 Observation Almanac:

S&T Galilean Moon Mutual Events:

S&T Jupiter Moon Events 2015:

Northern Virginia Astronomy Club: Jupiter Moon Events for 2015:

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One Response to Space Junk; OCTOBER 2015

  1. stevend says:

    Pre-dawn gazers should look East and see the ‘dance’ of Venus. Mars, Jupiter and the occasional visit of the Moon to the party, with Mercury also visible and below them just above the horizon from the 9th.

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