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Home / Explore / Astronomy Info & Events: October

Astronomy Info & Events: October

The Visible Planets

Mercury is not visible this month from our latitude. Mercury will be at inferior conjunction (in between the Sun and the Earth) on October 25.

Venus continues to shine brightly in the eastern sky before sunrise. On October 1, 2 and 3 you can find Venus near the bright star Regulus of the constellation of Leo, the lion. By the end of the month you can see Venus sinking lower in the sky, moving towards the glare of the rising Sun.

Mars reigns supreme this month within the constellation of Pisces, the fish, even outshining the king of the planets Jupiter in our evening sky. It rises in the east at sunset and sets in the west by sunrise, providing glorious views of this planet all night long. As Mars is at its closest to the Earth on October 5/6, the dates around this time marks the best time this year to view this incredible world through a telescope. The polar caps and distinctive light and dark features across the disc of Mars should be visible. Look for bright reddish coloured Mars above the Moon on the nights of October 2/3 and again on October 28/29. Mars is at its point of opposition on October 13. You will not see Mars this close to Earth again until the year 2033!

Jupiter is found shining brightly low in the southern sky at sunset. It is found in the constellation of Sagittarius, the archer, and is just above and to the east of the asterism of the “teapot”. Jupiter continues to move westward and then sets about 3 hours after sunset in the southwest.

Saturn is seen in southern sky at sunset, setting in the southwest about three hours later. It’s located in the constellation of Sagittarius, the archer, and is seen just to the east of the much brighter Jupiter. On October 22 look for a nice conjunction between Saturn, Jupiter and the waxing crescent Moon. Saturn continues to be one of the highlights of early evening observing at the RASC Observatory into the fall/winter period.

Moon Phases

October 1 Full Moon (The Hunter’s Moon)

October 9 Last Quarter Moon

October 16 New Moon

October 23 First Quarter Moon

October 31 Full Moon (Second Full Moon of October 2020, Blue Moon)

Special Events

International Space Station (ISS) Observable Passes

During the month of October there will be several favourable passes of the ISS from October 1 to October 6, with the ISS visible in our early evening sky. On October 22, ISS visible passes move into our early morning sky before sunrise. Check the website http://www.heavens-above.com for exact viewing times for your location.

October 1 The planet Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation (seen after sunset).

October 2 Mars brightly shining above the Moon tonight!

October 4 Sputnik launched into space in 1957 (63 years ago)

October 4-10 World Space Week!

October 5 Marc Garneau, Canada’s first astronaut, launched into space 36 years ago.

October 6 Mars is at its closest to the Earth today! Best views through a telescope!

October 7 Dracond meteor shower peaks

October 12 Thanksgiving Day

October 13 Mars at opposition today (opposite the Sun in the sky)

October 14 Venus near very slim waning crescent Moon (predawn eastern sky)

October 14 Scheduled launch of crewed Soyuz MS-17 to the International Space Station

October 17-25 Jasper Dark Sky Festival

See https://jasperdarksky.travel/ for more details of the event.

Due to the pandemic no astronomical observing and no guest speakers this time.

October 19 Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (Edmonton Centre) Meeting Tonight.

7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Virtual meeting on Zoom. See website http://www.edmontonrasc.com for details.

October 21 Orionid meteor shower peaks in the early morning hours before sunrise.

October 22 Jupiter found above the waxing crescent Moon.

October 31 Happy Hallowe’en! Full Moon (Blue Moon)

Smallest full Moon of 2020.

Uranus at opposition