• Chris Baker

What's Up in October?

Each month I highlight a few things you can easily spot in the night sky without the need for optical equipment. New this month is ‘Constellation of the Month’ - see if you can spot Leo!


Planets

Last month was super for seeing some of our neighbours and this month promises to be just as interesting.

Below is some information on each planet and then dates for your diary.


Venus

Venus is well placed for spotting this month for those early risers and looks spectacular! You cannot miss it in the dawn sky.

At the beginning of the month it rises about 4 hours before the Sun. It starts off in the constellation of Leo (See constellation of the month).

If you do have binoculars- or good eyesight- then you will see it is phased, like our Moon. The phases will change during the month but early on it is around 70%. - see if you can spot how it changes.

It will be close to a 14% waning Moon on the 14th – worth getting up early for.


Mars

Mars is spectacular again this month – It glows a salmon pink in the night sky. It rises in the east and is observable most of the night. On the 6th it will be the closest to Earth, reaching its highest point in the sky at around midnight. The whole month the planet will be visible and cannot be missed! It will be very slightly dimmer by the month end.

Mars dominating the October evening Sky - looking East

Courtesy of Stellarium


Jupiter

Jupiter is a bright evening object in the evening southern sky - remaining quite low down for all of the month. You cannot miss this bright object. If you do have binoculars rest them against something solid to keep them steady and see how many Jovian moons you can spot. If you are lucky it will be four.

On the 22nd you’ll see the planet close to the crescent Moon- a lovely sight- below it is 20:30.


Jupiter and Saturn close to the crescent Moon on the 22nd October

Courtesy of Stellarium


Saturn

Saturn is a majestic sight and will be close to Jupiter throughout the month. It is less bright than it’s huge compatriot and shines with a slight pink hue. If you can see it through a telescope then do so as you will see the beautiful rings.


Constellation of the Month – LEO

How to spot the constellation of LEO.


The Constellation of LEO – example of 06:00 mid-month

Courtesy of Stellarium

When?

Early morning just prior to Sunrise

Where?

Look east. Also you should see it close to the bright planet Venus too – especially around mid-month.

What am I looking for?

The best way to spot it is to look for the part of the constellation which looks like a backward question mark – see the image here.

Also see if you can spot the star at the bottom of the question mark- the brightest star in the constellation. This is the star Regulus. It is actually made up of four stars which you cannot resolve with the naked eye. Two pairs of binary stars. Now you’ll impress your friends!

Let me know if you see Leo for the first time - I’d love to hear from you.


Dates for your Diary

Here are a few dates to note down to see some spectacular sights.

6th October

Mars closest to the Earth and at its brightest.

14th October

Early morning the crescent Moon and Venus appear close together

22nd October

Early evening Jupiter and Saturn close to the Moon

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