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Manchester Astronomical Society
Established 1903

Manastro Journal for October

With the country still in lockdown, unfortunately Godlee Observatory is closed for the forseeable future. Why not join us instead for a 'Zoom' webchat, most Thursday evenings. See Facebook for details.

In the Sky for the next few weeks:-









The Moon

1st Quarter on the 23rd

Full Moon on 1st and 31st

3rd Quarter on the 10th

New Moon on 16th

On the 31st there will be a 'blue moon' which is a second full moon in a single calendar month

Planet of the month: Mars

Diameter: 6792 km 0.5325 Earths
Mass: 0.1074 Earths
Density: 3.93 g/cc (water=1)
Gravity: 0.379 G
Rotation Period: 1.03 days = 1d 00h 37m 23s


© Stephen Faulder

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System after Mercury. In English, Mars carries the name of the Roman god of war and is often referred to as the 'Red Planet'. The latter refers to the effect of the iron oxide prevalent on Mars' surface, which gives it a reddish appearance distinctive among the astronomical bodies visible to the naked eye. Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere, with surface features reminiscent of the impact craters of the Moon and the valleys, deserts and polar ice caps of Earth.

On the 14th Oct, Mars will be at opposition (Perigree - closest to Earth, in a straight line with the Sun & Earth, with Earth in the middle). From Manchester, it will be visible between 19:20 and 06:34. It will become accessible around 19:20, when it rises to an altitude of 7° above your eastern horizon. It will reach its highest point in the sky at 00:59, 41° above your southern horizon. It will become inaccessible around 06:34 when it sinks below 8° above your western horizon.

Over the weeks following its opposition, Mars will reach its highest point in the sky four minutes earlier each night, gradually receding from the pre-dawn morning sky while remaining visible in the evening sky for a few months.

Constellation of the Month: Cygnus (shown 15th October 22:00)


Cygnus is a prominent constellation in the northern sky. Its name means “the swan” in Latin, and it is also known as the Swan constellation.

Cygnus is associated with the myth of Zeus and Leda in Greek mythology. The constellation is easy to find in the sky as it features a well-known asterism known as the Northern Cross. Cygnus was first catalogued the by Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd century.

Notable objects in the constellation include Cygnus X-1, a famous x-ray source, the bright stars Deneb and Albireo, the Fireworks Galaxy (NGC 6946), and several well-known nebulae: the Pelican Nebula (IC 5070), the North America Nebula (NGC 7000), the Crescent Nebula (NGC 6888), Sadr Region (IC 1318) and the Veil Nebula (NGC 6960, 6962, 6979, 6992, and 6995).

Cygnus is the 16th largest constellation in the night sky, occupying an area of 804 square degrees. It lies in the fourth quadrant of the northern hemisphere (NQ4) and can be seen at latitudes between +90° and -40°. The neighboring constellations are Cepheus, Draco, Lacerta, Lyra, Pegasus, and Vulpecula.

Cygnus constellation is associated with several myths, most frequently the one of the Spartan Queen Leda, who gave birth to two sets of twins, the immortal Pollux and Helen and mortal Castor and Clytemnestra, after being seduced by the god Zeus, who had transformed himself into a swan. The immortal children were fathered by the god and the mortal ones by Leda’s husband, King Tyndareus. Castor and Pollux are represented by the zodiac constellation Gemini.

Cygnus is also sometimes identified as Orpheus, the Greek tragic hero who was murdered by the Thracian Maenads for not honouring Dionysus. After death, Orpheus was transformed into a swan and placed next to his lyre in the sky. The lyre is represented by the neighbouring constellation Lyra.

NGC 7000 - North American Nebula

NGC 7000 North America Nebula© Dave Wilkinson

NGC 6995

NGC 6995 - Veil Nebula © Rikesh Patel

Meteor Showers

Peak 8th/9th - Draconids (ZHR 10)

Peak 21st//22nd - Orionids (ZHR 25)

MAS Society & MAS Facebook members' recent images

Here is a selection of some of the recent images from our members


IC1396 - ©Rikesh Patel - 21/09/20


IC1805 - ©Phil Swift - 25/09/20


M33 - ©Phil Swift - 23/09/20


NGC281 - ©Alan Griffiths - 09/09/20




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