Welcome to SkyEye, your guide to this month's celestial events.

October 2013

The Calendar

Date 45° N 30° S Event
1 Tue
2 Wed
3 Thu Uranus at opposition
4 Fri
5 Sat New Moon
6 Sun
7 Mon
8 Tue The waxing crescent Moon will prove no obstacle to observing the Draconids (theoretical peak activity: about 17:30 UT).
9 Wed Mercury at greatest elongation east
10 Thu Moon at perigee
11 Fri First Quarter Moon
12 Sat Jupiter at west quadrature
13 Sun
14 Mon
15 Tue
16 Wed Comet C/2012 S1 ISON passes near the first-magnitude star Regulus.
17 Thu
18 Fri The Full Moon undergoes a penumbral eclipse.
19 Sat
20 Sun
21 Mon This year's Orionids occur three days after Full Moon, making observations virtually impossible in the light-polluted sky.
22 Tue
23 Wed
24 Thu
25 Fri Moon at apogee
26 Sat Last Quarter Moon
27 Sun
28 Mon
29 Tue
30 Wed
31 Thu

Coming up next month...

The last eclipse of the year, a rare hybrid solar eclipse, occurs on the third day of the month. And two naked eye comets make an appearance.

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. Dwarf planets and small solar-system bodies like comets are not so constrained, often moving far above or below the ecliptic.

Virgo » Libra
Comet C/2012 S1 ISON
Virgo » Libra
The smallest planet in the solar system continues to wow observers from southern latitudes by continuing to climb high above the western horizon after sunset. But don't leave it too long to look for this elusive planet. Greatest elongation east occurs on 9 October and then Mercury rapidly descends into the evening twilight. For northern hemisphere observers the closest planet to the Sun never manages to climb very high above the horizon.
Libra » Scorpius » Ophiuchus » Scorpius » Ophiuchus
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 slightly before the end of the year.
Look for the red planet rising in the early morning hours. It may be found close by the first-magnitude star Regulus mid-month.
West quadrature on 12 October means this month is an excellent time to observe Jupiter telescopically. The shadows of the moons on the planet and vice versa are particularly pronounced at quadrature, giving the system a real three-dimensional appearance.
This distant planet is all but lost in the evening twilight as it approaches solar conjunction next month.
At opposition on the third day of the month, this green-coloured ice giant is up all night.
A small telescope is necessary to view the most distant planet in the solar system which sets after midnight.

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 SkyEye banner features an enhanced photograph of the Moon taken on 7 December 1992 by the Galileo spacecraft on its journey to Jupiter. The bright rayed crater at the bottom is Tycho. The dark areas are lava basins and include Mare Tranquillitatis, the Apollo 11 landing site and where astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first human beings to walk on the Moon. This image is courtesy of NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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Last modified on 30 September 2013