Orion clouds
Axarquia, Costa del Sol, Andalucia, Spain

NIGHT SKIES

Events during October
20th-21st - ORIONIDS METEOR SHOWER peaks when debris from Halleys Comet smashes into Earths atmosphere.
25th - SATURN is in conjunction with the Sun.
26th - MERCURY is at greatest eastern elongation (24 degrees).
28th - SUMMER TIME ends and the clocks go backwards one hour (Spain and UK).

MOON:
* Full - 29th, New - 15th, Apogee - 405,160 kilometres - 5th, Perigee - 360,670 kilometres - 17th.
*   5th - the Moon passes below Jupiter
* 12th - the crescent Moon lies to the right of Venus with Regulus (the brightest star in Leo) above, in the early morning.
* 13th - the thin crescent Moon lies directly below Venus in the morning.
* 18th - Mars is close to the crescent Moon low in the evening sky.

October Snapshot Nightsky at 01:00h showing Orionids meteor shower, 21st October 2012

The Orionids meteor shower lasts from the 15th to the 29th October with maximum meteors occurring overnight on the 20th to 21st. After the Moon sets (10pm UK time / 11pm Spanish time), its a good year for these shooting stars which are very much worth looking out for.

The best way to observe these, and other, meteors is to lie outdoors in a reclining chair or sun-lounger. Try to take in as much of the sky as possible. When you see a meteor, mentally trace it backwards until you arrive at the radiant point.

Stunning Jupiter, at magnitude brightening from -2.5 to -2.7, dominates the constellation of Taurus between the horns of the bull, rising at 22.15h at the beginning of October and at 19:15h by the end of the month.

The Andromeda Galaxy, located in the Andromeda constellation, is visible to the naked eye from a dark location covering an area four times larger than a full Moon. Like our Milky Way, it is a beautiful spiral shape but, unfortunately, is almost side-on from our aspect. Unlike other galaxies, which are receding from us with expansion of the Universe, the Milky Way and Andromeda are approaching each other. Its estimated they will collide in five billion years time.

Mercury
Astronomy, Mythology & Astrology of Mercury Click for more information
Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation (24 degrees) on October 26th and is visible in southwest twilight for observors in equatorial and southern latitudes throughout the month. In fact, for the southern hemisphere, it is the most favourable evening apparition of the year.

The best times to observe Mercury in the northen hemisphere are when it is an evening star in the spring and a morning star in the autumn. In midsummer the lighter skies make visibility difficult near the horizon.

Venus
Astronomy, Mythology & Astrology of Venus Click for more information
While fading slightly from -4.1 to -4.0 magnitude during October, Venus remains a spectacular object in the morning sky moving from Leo into neighbouring Virgo during the month. On October 3rd the Morning Star is close to Regulus (the brightest star in Leo), skimming it by just 10 arcminutes (one-third of the Moonīs diameter).

For observors in northern latitudes, Venus still rises three and a half hours before the Sun but from the tropics and further south, the period of visibility is considerably less.

The planetīs phase increases from 71% to 81% during October and the waning crescent Moon appears closeby in the morning sky on October 12th.

Transit On the 8th June 2004 and 5th/6th June 2012, Venus was at inferior conjunction and transited the sun. Transits of Venus are rare, taking place at greater than 100 year intervals and usually in pairs. Prior to that, the last two transits of Venus were in 1874 and 1882. Transits of Venus won't occur again until 2117 and 2125.

Before and after inferior conjuction, when Venus is the closest it comes to the Earth, are the times at which the planet is most brilliant and can be seen setting or rising 4 hours after or before the Sun.
Mars
Astronomy, Mythology & Astrology of Mars Click for more information
Mars, remaining at magnitude +1.2, is low in the south-western sky at dusk and sets just two hours after the Sun from northern temperate latitudes. The period of visibility is longer from more southerly locations.

The planets motion carries it from Libra, through Scorpio into Ophiuchus during the month.

The waxing crescent Moon is closeby on October 18th. On October 22nd, Mars passes north of the reddish star Antares (Alpha Scorpii), presenting an interesting opportunity for observors in the tropics and southern heisphere to compare colours and brightness.

At opposition on the 28th August 2003, Mars was only 56 million kilometres from the Earth. It showed a disc of 25.1 seconds of arc across which is almost as large as it can ever appear. Mars started 2003 at 310 million kilometres from the earth at 4.5 seconds of arc and 1.6 magnitude. By opposition it brightened 50 times to reach -2.9 magnitude but faded to 0 magnitude by December. Even to the naked eye Mars was a striking object in the summer and autumn sky, easily identifiable by its reddish hue in an area of sky poor in bright stars. Mars will not be as close again until 2018.

These favourable oppositions occur every 15 or 17 years but other oppositions occur at average intervals of 2 years 2 months during which time the planet makes a complete circle of the Earth. In general Mars is observable every other year, being too close to the sun for favourable conditions during other times. Brightness at opposition varies from -1.0 to -2.9 magnitude, and when furthest from the earth it fades to 1.7 magnitude. The planet can be identified by its orange-red colour.

As in 2003, Mars comes nearest to the Earth at oppositions at the end of August. At these times it can be brighter than Jupiter, although low in the sky in Aquarius for northern observors. In the northern hemisphere, the planet may be better seen at oppostions during autumn and winter months when it is higher in the sky.

Jupiter
Astronomy, Mythology & Astrology of Jupiter Click for more information
Stunning Jupiter, at magnitude brightening from -2.5 to -2.7, dominates the constellation of Taurus between the horns of the bull, rising at 22.15h at the beginning of October and at 19:15h by the end of the month when it is visible all night long.

Jupiter will reach its first stationary point on October 4th after which it will follow a retrograde motion.

After spending the past six years in the southern skies, Jupiter moved north of the celestial equator on February 5th 2011 to spend the next six years in northern skies.

Varying from 603 (at its closest) to 770 million kilometres from the sun, the difference in brightness between opposition and conjunction varies less than with Mars, from about -2.9 to -1.8 magnitude. Always a bright planet, Jupiter comes to opposition a month later each year, moving approximately from one zodiacal constellation to the next.

The 4 largest of Jupiterīs 60+ moons are easily visible through binoculars or a small telescope, ranging from 4.6 to 5.6 in magnitude. The innermost, Io, takes 1.8 days to orbit the planet making its motion easily detectable within a few minutes.

Saturn
Astronomy, Mythology & Astrology of Saturn Click for more information
Saturn in Virgo may be glimpsed low in the western sky at dusk at the beginning of October from the tropics and southern hemisphere. After this it becomes unobservable leading up to conjunction with the Sun on October 25th

The planet crossed the equator into the northern hemisphere in 1996 where it remained until 2010 with the southern side of the ring system facing Earth. Because of its distance, its brightness varies little between opposition and conjunction but is affected by the huge ring system. Seen edge on the rings contribute little or no light.

Every 15 years the plane of Saturn's rings passes through the Sun, illuminating first the north and then the south side. For a few days the rings are edge on to the Sun. About the same time the Earth passes through the ring plane and, depending on the Earth's position, this may happen just once or 3 times. During 1995/96 there was a triple crossing and the next will be 2038/39. The last single crossing was in 2009 and the next will be in 2025.

Saturn's largest moon, Titan, is visible in small telescopes orbiting outside of the ring system.

Uranus
Astronomy, Mythology & Astrology of Uranus Click for more information
Uranus lies in Pisces, setting about 07.00h.

Brightness varies only slightly, reaching a maximum of +5.6 magnitude at opposition. Although this is bright enough to see with the naked eye, identifying it against the stars can be difficult. At closest approach, Uranus is 2,856 million kilometres (1,775 million miles) from Earth.

Neptune
Astronomy, Mythology & Astrology of Neptune Click for more information

Neptune lies in Aquarius, setting around 03.30h.

Neptune has an average magnitude of 7.9 which varies little with changing distance. At its closest, Neptune is 4,341 million kilometres (2,697 million miles) from Earth.

Pluto
Astronomy, Mythology & Astrology of Pluto Click for more information
No longer an offical planet and never brighter than +13 magnitude, Pluto is only visible through powerful telescopes.
Moon
Astronomy, Mythology & Astrology of the Moon Click for more information
October:
Last quarter: 8th
New moon: 15th
First quarter: 22nd
Full moon: 29th
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