October 2018 Night Sky Guide

Best Night Sky Events of October 2018

Bob Berman
Star Gazing

Here are highlights of the October 2018 night sky! We’ll help you spot bright planets, meteor showers, and night sky events!

Sky Watch October 2018

by Bob Berman, as featured in The Old Farmer’s Almanac

What’s up in the October night sky? Here are the highlights:

Bright Planets

The summer spectacle is ending, with all planets now losing their luster simultaneously.

The new Moon falls on Monday, October 8th, so the first two weeks bring the darkest skies for sky watching. See your local Moon Phase Calendar.

  • Saturn and Mars dominate the southern sky as darkness falls. Look to the southwest around 9 P.M.
  • Mars is highest in the sky, soon after nightfall. However, the orange planet is rapidly fading from view as its distance increases from Earth over the course of the month. The solitary bright star far to Mars’s lower left is Fomalhaut.
  • Saturn is visible only in the first part of the night. A modest telescope shows its rings.
  • Venus is too difficult to see this month. The planet starts very low in the western sky and sinks lower to the setting Sun each day, vanishing into the solar glare.
  • Jupiter is visible above Venus in the western sky, however, it’s only up 10 degrees as twilight ends. Look low in the southwest sky at dusk.

See your planet rise and set times here.

Pairings and Conjunctions

  • The Moon stands below Jupiter on the 11th, to the right of Saturn on the 14th, to the right of Mars on the 17th, and to the left of Mars on the 18th.
  • Venus meets the Sun in inferior conjunction on the 16th. Uranus reaches opposition on the 23rd–24th in Aries, at a dimly visible magnitude +5.7.

Meteor Showers

  • The Draconid Meteor Shower peaks October 7 to 9 in the late evening. The Draconids wouldn’t qualify as a major shower, promising only  6 meteors an hour, however the new Moon on October 8, 2018 guarantees dark skies not marred by moonlight.
  • The Orionids peak October 21 to 22. This shower generate 15 meteors per hour with best viewing in the predawn hours. However, a bright waxing Moon in 2018 means that moonshine will interfere with the Orinids much of the night. 

See our Meteor Shower Calendar.

Click here for a free sky map to navigate the night sky!

Source: 

The Old Farmer's Almanac

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