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What’s Up From 6 October

In the last edition in the second paragraph I inadvertently put “equinox” instead of 1 September. It should have read “For many 1 September marks the beginning of spring, which it isn’t! Spring starts on the 22 September.

Full Moon is on the 19th when there is a penumbral eclipse (Moon moves into the partial shadow of Earth) between 23h48 and 03h51 (the following morning), but will hardly be noticeable. With the equinox just past, means that amount of daylight is increasing at its fastest and this month we get just over an hour of extra daylight.
There is also another beautiful asterism. Looking west just after sunset on the 6th low above the horizon is a thin waxing crescent Moon above which are two planets, Mercury on the left with Saturn the on the right. Higher up, Venus shines unmistakably bright in the constellation of Scorpio the Scorpion, with the red supergiant star Antares at its heart. On the 8th Venus will be close to the Scorpions claws and will be joined by the crescent Moon.
Venus and the Scorpion also perform a sort of celestial dance between the 7th and the 19th and is well worth watching: again showing clearly how the planets move relative to the background stars. Venus passes between the Scorpions claws from the 9th to the 11th and by the 16th will be very close the Antares, after which the two separate and by months end Venus will be well above the red supergiant.
The French astronomer Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille visited Cape Town from 1751 to 1753 to map the southern stars. He created several new constellations including one called Mons Mensa, or Table Mountain, and to this day remains the only constellation named after a geographical feature. It contains no bright stars and lies between the southernmost constellation, Octans, and the Large Magellanic Cloud. The northern most stars of Mensa, representing the top of Table Mountain, are hidden in the Large Cloud, in the same way that Table Mountain is often shrouded in clouds, referred to as the “tablecloth” by Capetonians.

 
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