Night sky in October Highlights

Sunday 28th October the clocks go back an hour, so you can have an extra hours lay-in, for the early risers the mornings will seem a bit brighter, and for the evening star gazers you don’t have to wait so long in the evening before the stars appear.

Moon Phases

Oct 2   Last quarter

Oct 9   New Moon

Oct 16 First quarter

Oct 24 Full Moon

Oct 31 Last quarter

Planets

Mercury:-        Is now too close to the Sun to be observed.

Venus:-           May be briefly visible a few degrees above the eastern horizon at the beginning of the month, but now too close to the sun to be properly observed. Sets about an hour after the sun.

Mars:-             22º SE. Best observed 10.00 pm when its 28ª above the Southern horizon

Jupiter:-          16ª SW. Sets about 2 and a half hours after the Sun.

Saturn:-          26º S. Sets just after midnight.

Uranus:-         Not visible until around 22:25 then 20º above E horizon. Reaches it’s highest point   just after 4 am. Uranus is at opposition on 24 October (mag 5.7)

Neptune:-      Only visible from 9:00pm until 4:00am reaching its highest elevation of 43º above the southern horizon at 20 minutes past midnight.

Comets

There are a couple of comets, neither naked eye objects yet, but may be visible with binoculars. Both will be better placed nearer the end of the month and will continue to brighten for the next month or two. You’ll need to look these up on the internet due to their ever-changing position.  www.heavens-above.com is a good source of information.

38P/ Stephan-Oterma

In Orion, just above the main part of the constellation. Not visible till late at night/early morning..

Mag 10 – 9 allegedly should be visible with binoculars, brightening to around mag 8.5 in early December.

46P/Wirtanen

Mag about 11, but brightening hopefully to a good visual object (mag 3.3) in mid-December.

Comet 21P /Giacobini-Zinner

will have past its peak by now but should still be visible in binoculars. At the start of the month it does not rise until 2:15am over the Eastern horizon, then reaches an elevation of over 40º by sunrise. This becomes less favourable as the month progress’s, so that by the 27th it rises at 2:40am over SE (or 1:40 on 29 due to clock changes), but by then it never gets more than 25º above the southern horizon before sunrise.

Reports suggest it never became brighter then mag 6.8 at times between the 7th and 17th of September. Visually through a largish scope ( 10 inch) people have seen a faint tail (length ~20 arcminutes), but this was from a dark sky site, and using a “Swan band filter” to enhance the faint detail.

In December, Comet 46P/Wirtanen “should” be an easy naked eye comet (magnitude 3 ?) visible just before Christmas, or that was the prediction made at the beginning of the year. Guess what? This “intrinsically bright” comet, that will be passing “exceptionally close to the Earth” (for a comet), is currently dimmer than expected at this stage. I’m sure we’ll hear more about this nearer the time.

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