Starwatch for October 2020

Written by on October 15, 2020

Hello! I’m Karl Hricko of United Astronomy Clubs of NJ and the National Space Society, bringing you the October Starwatch for the WNTI.ORG

Who started Halloween? It was the Seven Sisters in heaven. Actually, we can only see six of them. These are the six visible stars in the Pleaides star cluster. In Greek mythology, the Pleiades were the daughters of Atlas and Pleione, placed into the heavens by Zeus. The seventh sister is hard to see because she fell in love with a mortal and hides in shame.

So where does Halloween come into the picture? It was celebrated by the ancient Celts between October 31 and November 1 as Samhain.  It marked the end of their harvest and the beginning of winter and New Year. They began their celebration when the Pleiades reaches the highest point in the sky at midnight.

The Celts lit bonfires and wore costumes to ward off the spirits that were said to be raised on this date. In the Middle Ages, November 1 was designated as All Saints Day, and Samhain was incorporated into what is now called Halloween or All Hallows Evening. It has now evolved into our costume and trick or treat holiday.

Although the Seven Sisters have not yet ushered in the Samhain season, we are  able to  see Saturn, and to its right, bright Jupiter in Sagittarius to the south at 9 p.m. Looking east, you’ll see the red planet Mars in Pisces  at 10 p.m. At dawn, Leo holds the beauty of Venus in the east. Again, Mercury is hidden by the horizon. Also keep your eye on Daylight Saving Time which ends on November 1 at 2 a.m.

So let the Seven Sisters announce your Samhain celebration, as you follow the Halloween month’s planets across the night sky.

Until our next Starwatch –

Don’t forget to check out …                                                                                                                                       What’s up in the might sky!

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