By Larry Mahon

Agate Ridge observatory

Early viewing of Venus is necessary this month because of our latitude. It will be only a few degrees above the southwestern horizon and will set at 8:16 PDT on Oct. 2.

It is still growing in size and brightness as it reaches its greatest elongation — distance from the sun on Nov. 1.

Jupiter rises about midnight on Oct. 1, and two hours earlier by the end of the month. Jupiter reaches western quadrature, 90 degrees west of the sun, on Oct. 12, increases to magnitude -2.4, and its diameter increases to 41 arc seconds.

This is an especially favorable month to see the eclipses of its Galilean moons as they pass in front of the brightening planet.

Mars rises four to five hours before the sun this month. It is in the constellation Leo, the lion, and passes only 1 degree above the star Regulus, the bottom star of the sickle, on the morning of Oct. 15.

Another object races in to glide close to Mars and Regulus this month. It is the comet ISON. The comet is continuing to be observed and is now passed 10th magnitude as it approaches the orbit of Mars.

Will it reach seventh magnitude? Mars and the comet ISON proceed in tandem through the stars about 1 degree apart from Oct. 16-19. Next month, the comet begins its plunge toward the sun. It may reach naked eye visibility in mid-November and might become spectacular in early to mid-December. Check “” for the latest updates.

While looking up information for this article on my computer, I thought again of how few persons have any sky charts to view. Interactive sky charts are available at

Spend enough time on the home page to investigate it and you will be amazed. You will have to sign up for some areas but there is no charge. This is a very interesting online site with a great amount of information. Happy viewing.

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