Night sky guide for October 2018

Night sky guide for October 2018

  • October 1 - M110 well placed for observation. M110, the brightest satellite galaxy of the Andromeda galaxy (M31) will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +41°41', it is easiest to see from the northern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much south of 28°S. At magnitude 8.1, M110 is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or a small telescope.

  • October 2 - M32 well placed for observation. M32, the second brightest satellite galaxy of the Andromeda galaxy (M31) after M110 will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +40°51', it is easiest to see from the northern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much south of 29°S. At magnitude 8.1, M32 is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or a small telescope.

  • October 2 - M31 well placed for observation. The Andromeda galaxy (M31) will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +41°16', it is easiest to see from the northern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much south of 28°S. At magnitude 3.4, M31 is tricky to make out with the naked eye except from a dark site, but is visible through a pair of binoculars or a small telescope.

  • October 3 - NGC 253 well placed for observation. Across much of the world, the Sculptor Galaxy (NGC 253) will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of -25°17', it is easiest to see from the southern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much north of 44°N. At magnitude 14.0, NGC253 is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or a small telescope.

  • October 4 - Close approach of the Moon and M44 - 10:08 UTC. The Moon and M44 will make a close approach, passing within 0°54' of each other. The Moon will be 25 days old. The Moon will be at mag -11.4, and M44 at mag 3.1, both in the constellation Cancer. The pair will be a little too widely separated to fit comfortably within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible through a pair of binoculars.

  • October 4 - SMC well placed for observation. Across much of the world, the Milky Way's dwarf companion, the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), in Tucana will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of -72°48', it is easiest to see from the southern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much north of 2°S. At magnitude 2.7, SMC is visible to the naked eye, but best viewed through a pair of binoculars.

  • October 7 - Ceres at solar conjunction - 15:17 UTC. 1 Ceres will pass very close to the Sun in the sky as its orbit carries it around the far side of the solar system from the Earth. At closest approach, 1 Ceres will appear at a separation of only 7° from the Sun, making it totally unobservable for several weeks while it is lost in the Sun's glare. At around the same time, 1 Ceres will also be at its most distant from the Earth – receding to a distance of 3.59 AU – since the two planets will lie on opposite sides of the solar system. If 1 Ceres could be observed at this time, it would appear at its smallest and faintest on account of its large distance. It would measure 0.0 arcsec in diameter. Over the following weeks and months, 1 Ceres will re-emerge to the west of the Sun, gradually becoming visible for ever-longer periods in the pre-dawn sky. After around six months, it will reach opposition, when it will be visible for virtually the whole night.

  • October 7 - NGC 362 well placed for observation. Across much of the world the globular cluster NGC 362 in Tucana will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of -70°50', it is easiest to see from the southern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much north of 0°S. At magnitude 6.6, NGC362 is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or a small telescope.

  • October 8 - Draconid meteor shower. The Draconids is a minor meteor shower producing only about 10 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet 21P Giacobini-Zinner, which was first discovered in 1900. The Draconids is an unusual shower in that the best viewing is in the early evening instead of early morning like most other showers. The shower runs annually from October 6 - 10 and peaks this year on the night of the 8th. This will be an excellent year to observe the Draconids because there will be no moonlight to spoil the show. Best viewing will be in the early evening from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Draco but can appear anywhere in the sky.

  • October 9 - New Moon - 03:48 UTC. The Moon will be located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

  • October 10 - Conjunction of the Moon and Mercury - 00:35 UTC. The Moon and Mercury will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 5°51' to the north of Mercury. The Moon will be 1 day old. The Moon will be at mag -7.9, and Mercury at mag -0.5, both in the constellation Virgo. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope or pair of binoculars but will be visible to the naked eye.

  • October 11 - Conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter - 21:21 UTC. The Moon and Jupiter will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 4°06' to the north of Jupiter. The Moon will be 2 days old. At around the same time, the two objects will also make a close approach, technically called an appulse. The Moon will be at mag -10.0, and Jupiter at mag -1.8, both in the constellation Libra. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

  • October 12 - Close approach of the Moon and Jupiter - 23:28 UTC. The Moon and Jupiter will make a close approach, passing within 3°56' of each other. The Moon will be 2 days old. The Moon will be at mag -10.1, and Jupiter at mag -1.8, both in the constellation Libra. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars. At around the same time, the two objects will also share the same right ascension – called a conjunction.

  • October 14 - Conjunction of Venus and Mercury - 15:06 UTC. Venus and Mercury will share the same right ascension, with Venus passing 6°48' to the south of Mercury. Venus will be at mag -4.3, and Mercury at mag -0.3, both in the constellation Virgo. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope or pair of binoculars but will be visible to the naked eye.

  • October 14 - M33 well placed for observation. The Triangulum galaxy (M33) will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +30°39', it is easiest to see from the northern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much south of 39°S. At magnitude 5.7, M33 is too faint to be seen with the naked eye from any but the very darkest sites but is visible through a pair of binoculars or a small telescope.

  • October 15 - Conjunction of the Moon and Saturn - 02:47 UTC. The Moon and Saturn will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 1°47' to the north of Saturn. The Moon will be 6 days old. At around the same time, the two objects will also make a close approach, technically called an appulse. The Moon will be at mag -11.4, and Saturn at mag 0.3, both in the constellation Sagittarius. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

  • October 15 - Close approach of the Moon and Saturn - 02:58 UTC. The Moon and Saturn will make a close approach, passing within 1°47' of each other. The Moon will be 6 days old. The Moon will be at mag -11.4, and Saturn at mag 0.3, both in the constellation Sagittarius. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars. At around the same time, the two objects will also share the same right ascension – called a conjunction.

  • October 17 - Dwarf planet Eris at opposition - 22:58 UTC. 136199 Eris will be well placed for observation, in the constellation Cetus. It will be visible for much of the night, reaching its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time.

  • October 18 - Close approach of the Moon and Mars - 12:14 UTC. The Moon and Mars will make a close approach, passing within 1°54' of each other. The Moon will be 9 days old. The Moon will be at mag -12.1, and Mars at mag -0.9, both in the constellation Capricornus. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

  • October 18 - Conjunction of the Moon and Mars - 13:03 UTC. The Moon and Mars will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 1°56' to the north of Mars. The Moon will be 9 days old. At around the same time, the two objects will also make a close approach, technically called an appulse. The Moon will be at mag -12.1, and Mars at mag -0.9, both in the constellation Capricornus. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

  • October 21, 22 - Orionid meteor shower. The Orionids is an average shower producing up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Halley, which has been known and observed since ancient times. The shower runs annually from October 2 to November 7. It peaks this year on the night of October 21 and the morning of October 22. The nearly full moon will block some of the fainter meteors this year, but the Orionids tend to be fairly bright so it could still be a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Orion, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

  • October 24 - Uranus at opposition - 00:33 UTC. The blue-green planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. It will be brighter than any other time of the year and will be visible all night long. This is the best time to view Uranus. Due to its distance, it will only appear as a tiny blue-green dot in all but the most powerful telescopes.

  • October 24 - Full Moon - 16:47 UTC. The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated.This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Hunters Moon because at this time of year the leaves are falling and the game is fat and ready to hunt. This moon has also been known as the Travel Moon and the Blood Moon.

  • October 26 - Venus at inferior solar conjunction - 14:11 UTC. Venus will pass very close to the Sun in the sky as its orbit carries it between the Sun and Earth. This occurs once in every synodic cycle of the planet (584 days) and marks the end of Venus's apparition in the evening sky and its transition to become a morning object over the next few weeks.

  • October 26 - NGC 869 well placed for observation. The open star cluster NGC 869 in Perseus, also known as the western half of the double cluster will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +57°07', it is easiest to see from the northern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much south of 12°S. At magnitude 3.7, NGC869 is tricky to make out with the naked eye except from a dark site but is visible through a pair of binoculars or a small telescope.

  • October 27 - NGC 884 well placed for observation. The open star cluster NGC 884 in Perseus, also known as the eastern half of the double cluster will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +57°08', it is easiest to see from the northern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much south of 12°S. At magnitude 3.8, NGC884 is tricky to make out with the naked eye except from a dark site but is visible through a pair of binoculars or a small telescope.

  • October 29 - 64P/Swift-Gehrels reaches its brightest. Comet 64P/Swift-Gehrels is forecast to reach its brightest, at around mag 10.9. It will lie at a distance of 1.39 AU from the Sun, and at a distance of 0.44 AU from the Earth.

  • October 30 -Conjunction of Jupiter and Mercury - 03:45 UTC. Jupiter and Mercury will share the same right ascension, with Jupiter passing 3°16' to the north of Mercury. Jupiter will be at mag -1.7, and Mercury at mag -0.2, both in the constellation Libra. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

  • October 31 - Close approach of the Moon and M44 - 15:46 UTC. The Moon and M44 will make a close approach, passing within 0°39' of each other. The Moon will be 22 days old. The Moon will be at mag -12.0, and M44 at mag 3.1, both in the constellation Cancer. The pair will be a little too widely separated to fit comfortably within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible through a pair of binoculars.

  • October 31 - Fornax well placed for observation. Across much of the world, the Fornax dwarf spheroidal galaxy will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of -34°27', it is easiest to see from the southern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much north of 35°N.  At magnitude 9.0, Fornax is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or a small telescope.

Video courtesy Hubble Space Telescope

Sources: In The Sky by Dominic Ford, NASA, The Watchers

Featured image credit: Hubble Space Telescope, The Watchers

Comments

No comments yet. Why don't you post the first comment?

Post a comment

Your name: *

Your email address: *

Comment text: *

The image that appears on your comment is your Gravatar