The mid-October brings some joy to all stargazers. Mars at its brightest won’t be the only noteworthy object in the sky. Prepare your binoculars to see the close approach of the Moon and Venus. The glowing heart of the Lion, Regulus, will be nearby as well. Do you want to learn more? Keep reading!
The appulse of the Moon and Venus
On October 13 at 10:50 p.m. EDT (October 14, 02:50 GMT), the Moon and Venus will make a close approach, which technically is called an appulse. Appulses happen when two astronomical objects — usually the Moon and a planet or a star — visually appear very close, as seen from the Earth. In other words, an appulse means that the apparent separation between two bodies is minimal, although there is no official definition of how close they should be. During this appulse, the distance between the Moon and Venus will be 4°02'.
An appulse is related to conjunction, during which two space bodies have the same right ascension or ecliptic longitude. This appulse is accompanied by the conjunction that will occur on October 13 at 7:57 p.m. EDT (October 13, 23:57 GMT). The Moon and Venus will be at the same right ascension — 10h 58m 10s — with the Moon passing 4°20' to the north of Venus.
During these events, the Moon and Venus will shine in the constellation Leo, at magnitude -10.4 and -4.1, respectively. To see them in the sky, better use binoculars since the duo will be placed too far away from each other to fit within the telescope field of view. They will be observable to the naked eye as well.
Don’t forget about another impressive astronomical event that will occur on October 13 — an opposition of Mars or a “full” Mars. Take a quick look at our article to find out how to see Mars in its best apparition until 2035.
Regulus — the heart of the Lion
You just can’t miss the night from October 13 to October 14, 2020 — at this time, the bright star Regulus will appear near the Moon, marking the constellation Leo. Its name comes from the Latin “Little King.” This 1st-magnitude star is the 21st brightest one in the sky and isn’t actually a star but a quadruple star system composed of two pairs of stars.
Interesting fact: If Regulus were located at the same distance as the Sun is, it would appear 150 times brighter than the Sun. It just doesn’t look as bright because it’s 79 light-years away.
To get an accurate position of Regulus, use Star Walk 2. Open the app, put the name of a celestial body in the search field, and enjoy its view! You can zoom in and explore the sky map to check what other space objects are around. In the case with Regulus or any other star, Star Walk 2 will show you the finely drawn constellation to which a star belongs.
Although the peak of brilliant stargazing events will happen on the night of October 13, you’ll have two more days to witness Regulus, Venus, and the Moon shining in the sky.
Wishing you clear skies and happy stargazing!