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EarthSky Tonight—October 17, Solar system’s outermost planet near moon
Posted By Editor On October 16, 2010 @ 10:35 pm In Earth & Sky | Comments Disabled
Courtesy of EarthSky
A Clear Voice for Science
 Do not expect to see Neptune, even though it is close to the moon tonight. Neptune, the 8th planet out from the sun, is the only solar system planet that you absolutely cannot see with the unaided eye. Pluto is not visible to the unaided eye, either, but in 2006, this distant world was reclassified – some say demoted – to “dwarf planet” status.
Because of the moonlit glare, you probably will not even see the rather faint constellation Capricornus. Once the moon leaves the evening sky, starting in late October, Capricornus will be visible in a dark country sky beyond the first week in November.
If you are game, you can try to star-hop to Neptune on a clear, moonless night. For the next couple of months, Neptune will remain about 3 degrees from the modestly bright star Deneb Algedi.
Since a typical binocular field spans about 5 degrees, both Neptune and Deneb Algedi should be able to fit into the same binocular field together. However, Neptune demands high-quality binoculars or a telescope, patience and a detailed star chart . Well into November, Uranus will be less than one-fourth degree (half the moon’s diameter) from the faint yet visible star Mu Capricorni.
Although the moon and Neptune are close together on the sky’s dome tonight, they are nowhere close in space. The moon resides about 1.35 light-seconds distant whereas Neptune is four light-hours away. That is nearly 11,000 times farther than the moon!
On this October night, use your “mind’s-eye” to envision the solar system’s most distant planet by tonight’s waxing gibbous moon .
Written by Bruce McClure 
Universe Today 
StarDate Online 
Sky and Telescope 
National Geographic 
Space Com 
Simostronomy Blog 
Amazing Space 
Scope City 
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URLs in this post:
 www.EarthSky.org: http://www.EarthSky.org
 Image: http://www.berthoudrecorder.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/phase17.gif
 Image: http://www.berthoudrecorder.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/10oct17_430.jpg
 detailed star chart: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/highlights/85530917.html
 waxing gibbous moon: http://earthsky.org/moon-phases/waxing-gibbous
 Bruce McClure: http://earthsky.org/author/brucemcclure/
 Astronomy Picture of the Day from NASA/JPL: http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/
 CHANDRA Photo Album: http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/
 U.S. Naval Observator Astronomical Information cente: http://www.usno.navy.mil/USNO/astronomical-applications/astronomical-information-center/astronomical-information-center
 Universe Today: http://www.universetoday.com/
 StarDate Online: http://stardate.org/
 Sky and Telescope: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/ataglance/
 National Geographic: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/
 Space Com: http://www.space.com/nightsky/
 Simostronomy Blog: http://simostronomy.blogspot.com/
 Amazing Space: http://amazing-space.stsci.edu/tonights_sky/
 The York County Astronomical Society: http://www.ycas.org/tonights_sky.htm
 Scope City: http://www.scopecity.net/
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