October 1st, 2015
In terms of easy-to-see night sky sights, October is a stunner. There’s just one problem; you’ll need to get up a little early. But this is something unusual and – unlike a super Moon – having four close conjunctions of the Moon, stars and planets in a single month is quite unusual.
Let’s start with October 8th. This morning you’ll see a waning crescent Moon close to Venus and Regulus, the brightest start in the constellation of Leo the Lion. But look a little lower and you’ll also see Mars and Jupiter shining brightly.
Come back the next morning and you’ll see the Moon’s progress across the sky. It’s now close to both Mars and Jupiter and will appear to form a triangle with the pair from North America.
If you can, continue to get up early over the next week or so and keep your eye on the planets. Mars and Jupiter will appear to draw closer together while Venus will pass Regulus and approach the pair.
Our next close encounter occurs on October 17th when Mars and Jupiter will appear very close in the pre-dawn sky. Look at the pair closely; would you estimate the gap between them to be larger or smaller than the full Moon? (In fact, the gap is about 25% smaller.)
Keep your eye on Venus as it’s quickly catching up to its slower siblings. On the 26th, you’ll see all three close together, but Venus and Jupiter are particularly close. Can you identify each planet? Which is brighter? If you’ve been watching carefully, you’ll already know the answers!
Also this month:
Uranus reaches opposition on the 12th and is therefore at its best visibility for the year. Mercury is at greatest western elongation on the 17th, making it visible in the pre-dawn sky for a short while, but this is not a good appearance for observers in the northern hemisphere. The Orionid meteor shower peaks on the 25th but unfortunately the Moon is just past first quarter so you’ll have to wait until after midnight to stand the best chance of seeing any.
All Astronomical Events for October 1st, 2015
17:11 UT – The waning gibbous Moon passes M45, the Pleiades open star cluster. (Naked eye, Taurus, pre-dawn sky.)
Events in bold involve objects and/or events that are visible with the naked eye.
All times are in Universal Time (UTC). To convert the time to your timezone, click here.
Astronomical events taken from 2015: An Astronomical Year, available in Kindle and paperback formats from Amazon in the US, Canada and the United Kingdom. Night sky simulations created using Mobile Observatory for Android devices.
2015: An Astronomical Year
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