Venus appears low in the SW as Dusk twilight starts to fade. The planet is still struggling to get out of the bright Dusk twilight. The planet gains a bit of brightness as the month progresses. Towards the end of the month, the planet manages to gain some small altitude increase. Despite the slight gain in altitude, Venus is still in a poor position.
Saturn is up in the SSE as evening darkness falls. The planet is in the western side of the Constellation of Capricornus. As the month progresses, Saturn loses a bit of brightness. By the 4th week of October, Saturn is strictly an evening planet, setting just before midnight.
Jupiter is also up in the SSE as evening darkness falls. Once Venus has set, Jupiter then becomes the brightest planet in the evening sky. The planet also loses a bit of brightness as the month progresses. Jupiter sets about 1 hour later than Saturn.
For the 1st half of the month, the morning sky is void of bright planets. However, Mercury will later change all that.
Mercury appears later in the month in the morning skies. The planet should be visible in the East around the 15th of October. Each morning, Mercury is gaining a bit of altitude and brightness. On 21 October, Mercury will be at its highest altitude for this morning showing. The planet will rise in the ESE just before Dawn breaks which is about 1 ½ hours before Sunrise. This is Mercury best morning showing for the year. The planet will be at its brightest for this showing during the last week of October. The planet will manage to barely hold onto its altitude position through the end of October. After Halloween, this fine morning showing will come to an end.
3 Oct Crescent Moon near bright star Regulus, Dawn
9 Oct Crescent Moon above and left of Venus, Dusk
14 Oct Waxing Gibbous Moon, Saturn and Jupiter form a rough triangle, Evening
16 Oct Venus near bright star Antares, Dusk
23 Oct Waning Gibbous Moon left of Pleiades Star Cluster, Dawn
27 Oct Waning Gibbous Moon lower right of bright star Pollux, Dawn
Orionids Meteor Shower:
October’s best meteor shower the Orionids will happen on the night of 20 -21 October. Unfortunately, the Full Moon will wash out and ruin viewing of this meteor shower.
October’s Minor Meteor Showers:
The only 2 meteor showers of October which are not spoiled by the Moon are the minor meteor showers the Piscids and the Draconids.
The first minor meteor shower, the Piscids will happen on the night of 6 -7 October. The less than one day old Crescent Moon will set around 7:00 pm, leaving the rest of the night Moon free. This minor meteor shower is predicted to produce about 5 meteors per hour.
Two days later another minor meteor shower will happen. On the night of 8-9 October, the minor meteor shower Draconids will happen. The 3-day old Crescent Moon will set just before 8:30 pm, leaving the rest of the night Moon free. The Draconids are predicted to produce about 3 meteors per hour. Although both weak minor meteor showers produce very little meteors; both showers are favorable for our viewing area.
October’s Quarter Moons:
The month of October offers us two Quarter Moons for observations; one is very unfavorable, the other one is very favorable.
October’s First Quarter Moon on the 12th is unfavorable. The 1st Quarter Moon position in the sky is the lowest of the year and that makes it unfavorable for observation especially in a telescope. Don’t be surprised if the Moon appears extremely low in the sky.
October’s Last Quarter Moon on the 28th is just the opposite of the 1st Quarter Moon. This Last Quarter Moon is at its highest position of the year and that makes it favorable for observation especially in a telescope.
Gary T. Nowak
Vermont Astronomical Society