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 2006

Date Event
1 Sun
2 Mon
3 Tue
4 Wed
5 Thu Moon occults Uranus: visible from about 0 UT from the southernmost tip of South America, the south Atlantic Ocean and the west coast of the southern parts of Africa.
6 Fri Because perigee occurs so close to the Full Moon, very high tides are expected.
7 Sat This Full Moon is the one closest to last month's equinox and is known as the "Harvest Moon".
8 Sun Yesterday's Full Moon obliterates the usually faint Draconids meteor shower.
9 Mon
10 Tue
11 Wed
12 Thu
13 Fri
14 Sat Last Quarter Moon
15 Sun
16 Mon
17 Tue Mercury at greatest elongation east
18 Wed
19 Thu Moon at apogee
20 Fri
21 Sat The nearly New Moon gives perfect conditions for viewing the Orionids meteor shower.
Moon occults Spica
22 Sun New Moon
23 Mon Mars at conjunction
24 Tue
25 Wed Moon occults Antares
26 Thu
27 Fri Venus at superior conjunction
28 Sat
29 Sun First Quarter Moon
30 Mon
31 Tue

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.

Object Location Description
Sun Virgo ->
Mercury Virgo ->
The closest planet to the Sun is at greatest elongation east on 17 October. It rises high above the western horizon after sunset as seen from the southern hemisphere but remains stubbornly low in the sky when viewed from the northern half of Earth.
Venus Virgo ->
The "morning star" vanishes this month as Venus reaches superior conjunction on 27 October. Northern hemisphere observers may see it near the eastern horizon early in the month but it soon disappears from view. It will reappear in the evening sky next month.
Mars Virgo The red planet reaches conjunction on 23 October, making it too near to the Sun to be visible this month.
Jupiter Libra The largest planet in the solar system is heading towards conjunction with the Sun next month, making it increasingly difficult to see in the west at sunset.
Saturn Leo The ringed planet is a morning sky object, not rising until after midnight.
Uranus Aquarius Barely visible to the naked eye, this gas giant is up most of the night, setting in the early morning hours.
Neptune Capricornus The outermost planet in the solar system sets by midnight. A small telescope is necessary to see this distant object.

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 2006