Welcome to SkyEye, your guide to this month's celestial events. All dates are based on Universal Time (UT).

The Sun and Moon

There are no eclipses this month.

As seen from the Earth, the Sun is moving from the constellation Virgo to the constellation Libra.

The phases of the Moon are

First Quarter : 5 October
Full : 13 October
Last Quarter : 20 October
New : 27 October

The Moon is at apogee on 6 October and at perigee on 19 October.

The Planets

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.
Greatest elongation east is attained by Mercury on 6 October. This tiny planet begins to retrograde on 18 October and is lost in the Sun's glare as it reaches inferior conjunction on 30 October. Mercury can be found in the constellations Virgo and Libra.
Venus leaps high above the western horizon at sunset in the southern hemisphere but rises only slowly as the month progresses for observers in the north. The "evening star" is in the constellations Libra, Scorpius, and Ophiuchus.
The red planet is a morning sky object, passing from the constellation Leo to the constellation Virgo by the end of the month.
Jupiter remains near the Hyades open star cluster this month, again passing near the first-magnitude star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus.
Rising ever earlier, the ringed planet can be seen for much of the night in the constellation Taurus.
You will need to look for Uranus by midnight in the constellation Capricornus. It resumes prograde motion on 26 October.
A telescope will be necessary to find Neptune in the constellation Capricornus. The gas giant resumes prograde motion on 15 October and reaches east quadrature on 26 October.
Pluto sets mid-evening in the constellation Ophiuchus. However, because it is so small and faint, a large telescope is always needed to see it.

Minor Planets, Comets and Meteors

Minor Planets
On 9 October, 2 Pallas will be at conjunction.
There are no naked-eye comets visible this month.
There are two interesting meteor showers this month, but the Moon may interfere with viewing either of them. The Draconids peak on 8 October. This shower usually only occurs when the parent comet is near perihelion which it was in 1998. The Orionids peak on 21 October.

The Celestial Sphere

Constellations are patterns of stars in the sky. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) recognizes 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 daylight savings time is in effect. (Note: These times are approximate.)

Northern Hemisphere : 45° N

Southern Hemisphere : 30° S

For More Information...


Much of this information can be found in this month's issue of Sky & Telescope and in other fine amateur astronomy magazines 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. SOHO is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.

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Last modified on 30 September 2000