Welcome to the October 2017 Sky Watch! See what to look for in the night sky tonight, including bright planets, the full Moon, and more celestial highlights!
Sky Watch October 2017
by Bob Berman, as featured in The 2017 Old Farmer’s Almanac
(Note: Times listed below are ET.)
What’s in October’s night sky? Here are the highlights:
- During the month of October, only Saturn is clearly visible at night with the naked eye. Just as darkness falls, look in the southwest sky; bright Saturn is at its highest for the night. This far-away planet sets soon after—one to two hours after nightfall.
- The other two nighttime planets, Jupiter and Mercury, are lost in the Sun’s glare this month.
- Venus and Mars are visible in the morning sky before sunrise. This is the best time to see bright Venus because it’s starting to get low near the horizon, and its long morning star apparition is winding down.
- From October 4 to 6, Venus is at magnitude –4 and Mars at 2 are very close (about ⅖ of a Moon apart) with a beautiful conjunction the morning of the 5th. To see Mars, you’ll need binoculars. Venus is 250 times brighter than Mars. Point them quite low in the east 1 hour before sunrise.
- On the 17th, the waning crescent Moon will hover just to the left of Mars right above Venus.
- Uranus comes to opposition from the 18th to the 19th; the Green Planet can be glimpsed in binoculars in easternmost Pisces.
- The moderate-strength Orionid meteor shower from the 21st to the 22nd has no competition, as the Moon is a thin crescent. See the Meteor Shower Calendar with viewing tips.
Click here for a free sky map to navigate October’s night sky.