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

Brief Calendar of Events

4 Fri 1 Ceres at opposition
6 Sun New Moon
Moon at perigee
8 Tue Draconids meteor shower
13 Sun First Quarter Moon
Mercury at greatest elongation west (18°)
20 Sun Moon at apogee
21 Mon Full Moon
Orionids meteor shower
29 Tue Last Quarter Moon
31 Thu Venus at inferior conjunction
Neptune at east quadrature

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.

With New Moon occurring less than two hours from perigee, very high tides can be expected on 6 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.
Spending most of the month in the constellation Virgo, Mercury reaches greatest elongation west on 13 October. Northern latitudes are favoured for this apparition in the morning sunrise sky.
Venus is lost to view by the end of month when it undergoes inferior conjunction on 31 October. Look for it earlier in the month as it moves from the constellation Libra to Virgo.
The red planet is a morning sky object, rising before twilight in the constellations Leo and Virgo.
The king of the planets rises about midnight in the constellation Cancer.
The ringed planet is almost stationary in the constellation Orion and thus rises before midnight.
Setting around midnight, faint Uranus can be found in the constellation Capricornus.
Neptune is not far from Uranus in the constellation Capricornus.
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
1 Ceres, the largest of the minor planets in the asteroid belt and the first one to be discovered, is at opposition on 4 October. At only eighth magnitude, you will need optical aids to see it in the constellation Cetus.
There are no naked-eye comets visible this month.
Occurring just two days past New Moon, this is a good year to observe the Draconids meteor shower. Unfortunately, the Orionids meteor shower is lost to the Full Moon.

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. Used with permission.

Obliquity Copyright © 1995-2002 by David Harper and L.M. Stockman
All Rights Reserved
Designed and maintained by Obliquity
Last modified on 30 September 2002