October 2015

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

The Calendar

Date Event
1 Thursday
2 Friday Moon occults first magnitude star Aldebaran: visible from Japan, eastern Russia, Alaska and northwestern Canada, and beginning around 11:20 UT
3 Saturday
4 Sunday Last Quarter Moon
5 Monday
6 Tuesday
7 Wednesday
8 Thursday Moon occults Venus: visible from mid-western parts of Australia and beginning about 18:05 UT.
9 Friday The waning crescent Moon is not an issue for observing the slow-moving Draconid meteors. The theoretical maximum occurs around 05:40 UT although it could happen nine hours earlier.
10 Saturday
11 Sunday Moon occults Mercury during the daytime
Moon at apogee
12 Monday Uranus at opposition
13 Tuesday New Moon
14 Wednesday
15 Thursday
16 Friday Mercury at greatest elongation west
17 Saturday
18 Sunday
19 Monday
20 Tuesday First Quarter Moon
21 Wednesday The waxing gibbous Moon does not interfere with the Orionid meteor shower. Observers might wish to see if another peak occurs earlier, over the night of 17/18 October.
22 Thursday
23 Friday
24 Saturday
25 Sunday
26 Monday Venus at greatest elongation west
Moon occults Uranus: visible from New Zealand and beginning about 09:35 UT.
Moon at perigee less than one day before the full phase
27 Tuesday Full Moon
28 Wednesday
29 Thursday Moon occults first magnitude star Aldebaran: visible from Iceland, Europe, northern Africa, western and central Russia, and beginning around 21:10 UT.
30 Friday
31 Saturday

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.

Sun VirgoLibra

Mercury Virgo

Now a morning sky object, the planet closest to the Sun is best viewed from northern latitudes. It is occulted by the Moon during the daytime on 11 October and reaches greatest elongation west five days later. It is difficult to observe from the southern hemisphere, lost in the solar glare.

Venus Leo

Venus is occulted by the Moon on 8 October. Later in the month, on 26 October when the planet is at greatest elongation west, bright Venus, red Mars and luminous Jupiter appear very close together in the eastern sky before sunrise. The morning star is high in the east for northern observers and continues to rise higher in the dawn sky. However, the planet stays mostly level when seen from the southern hemisphere.

Mars Leo

Rising well before sunrise, Mars is found in close company with the brighter planets Venus and Jupiter in the dawn sky.

Jupiter Leo

Early in the month, the king of the planets is the last to rise amongst the bright Venus-Mars-Jupiter triplet but by the end of the month, it pulls ahead of the two rocky planets. All three of them will be in exceptionally close proximity on 26 October.x

Saturn LibraScorpius

Look for the ringed planet in the west after sundown before it gets too low to the horizon to be seen.

Uranus Pisces

At opposition on 12 October, this green-coloured ice giant is at its brightest. Look for it at any time of the night. It is occulted by the Moon on 26 October.

Neptune Aquarius

A small telescope is necessary to view the most distant planet in the solar system. At opposition early last month, Neptune is still up for most of the night, setting in the west as Venus, Mars and Jupiter rise in the east.

The Celestial Sphere

Constellations are patterns of stars in the sky. The International Astronomical Union 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 and star clusters 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