Welcome to SkyEye, your guide to this month's celestial events. All times and dates are given in Universal Time (UT). Nightly darkness estimates are calculated for Greenwich, London (51.5° N, 0° W).

Calendar of Events - October 2005

Date Event
1 Sat
2 Sun
3 Mon New Moon
Annular eclipse of the Sun
4 Tue The Moon occults both the planet Mercury and the first-magnitude star Spica in daytime events visible only from the extreme polar regions.
5 Wed
6 Thu
7 Fri
8 Sat The waxing Moon should not hamper observations of the Draconids meteor shower.
The Moon occults the first-magnitude star Antares during daylight hours over the south Pacific.
9 Sun
10 Mon First Quarter Moon
11 Tue
12 Wed
13 Thu
14 Fri Moon at perigee
15 Sat
16 Sun
17 Mon Partial eclipse of the Moon
Full Moon
18 Tue
19 Wed
20 Thu
21 Fri The Orionids meteor shower will be somewhat washed out by the waning gibbous Moon.
22 Sat Jupiter at conjunction
23 Sun
24 Mon
25 Tue Last Quarter Moon
26 Wed Moon at apogee
27 Thu
28 Fri
29 Sat
30 Sun
31 Mon The Moon occults Spica again, and again it is visible only during daylight from the north pole.

The Solar System

The word planet is derived from the Greek word for "wanderer." Unlike the background stars, planets seem to move around the sky, keeping mostly to a narrow track called the ecliptic, the path of the Sun across the stars.

Location: Virgo -> Libra
Location: Virgo -> Libra -> Scorpius
The closest planet to the Sun appears about mid-month in the west for those looking for it from the northern hemisphere but it never gets very high. Southern hemisphere observers get a much better view of it, starting at the beginning of the month.
Location: Libra -> Scorpius
High in the western sky for southern hemisphere observers, the "evening star" continues to climb above the horizon this month. However, the viewing situation in the northern hemisphere will improve before the end of the year. Still, the place to be this month for inferior planet observing is the southern hemisphere.
Location: Aries
The red planet rises early in the evening and is at closest approach to the Earth late in the month.
Location: Virgo
The largest planet in the solar system reaches conjunction on 22 October and is lost in the Sun's glare all month.
Location: Cancer
Saturn rises before midnight by the end of the month.
Location: Aquarius
This distant gas giant sets during the early morning hours and thus is well-placed for early evening observing. Can you see it with the naked eye?
Location: Capricornus
Neptune sets just as Saturn rises.
Location: Serpens (Cauda)
With a brightness of around fourteenth magnitude, the smallest planet in the solar system can be seen only through a good-sized telescope. It is getting increasingly difficult to spot as it heads towards solar conjunction in December so look for it towards the west as soon as the sky is dark.

The Celestial Sphere

Constellations are patterns of stars in the sky. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) recognises 88 different constellations. The brightest stars as seen from the Earth are easy to spot but do you know their proper names? With a set of binoculars you can look for fainter objects such as nebulae and galaxies or some of the closest stars to the Sun.

Descriptions of the sky for observers in both the northern and southern hemispheres are available for the following times this month. Subtract one hour from your local time if summer (daylight savings) time is in effect.

Local Time Northern Hemisphere Southern Hemisphere
1730 hours (1830 hours summer time) 45° N 30° S
1930 hours (2030 hours summer time) 45° N 30° S
2130 hours (2230 hours summer time) 45° N 30° S
2330 hours (0030 hours summer time) 45° N 30° S
0130 hours (0230 hours summer time) 45° N 30° S
0330 hours (0430 hours summer time) 45° N 30° S
0530 hours (0630 hours summer time) 45° N 30° S

For More Information...


Much of this information can be found in this month's issue of your favourite amateur astronomy magazine available in your local bookshop. Another excellent source is the current edition of the Astronomical Calendar by Guy Ottewell and published by the Universal Workshop at Furman University.

The image of the Sun in the SkyEye banner is courtesy of the SOHO/EIT consortium. The composite image from May 1998 combines EIT images from three wavelengths (171Å, 195Å and 284Å) into one that reveals solar features unique to each wavelength. SOHO is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.

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Last modified on 30 September 2005