Visible planets and bright stars to see in the night sky!
October 3, 2022
October’s evening skies are nice and dark, providing excellent stargazing. Fittingly, the action now mostly remains in the evening sky—right at nightfall—with some beautiful Moon and planet pairings, the start of a busy meteor shower season, and the low-flying Hunter’s Moon!
With the autumnal equinox, the seasons have turned and we’ll enjoy darker night skies ahead—great for seeing some really bright planets and meteor showers! Here are Bob Berman’s highlights:
The Moon and Visible Planets
At nightfall, planets Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars are now worthy targets for backyard telescopes. Find the planets easily by using the Moon as a handy pointer:
On October 5, that bright planet above the Moon is Saturn. The golden planet shines steadily (versus the twinkling stars) high in the sky from sunset to 2 A.M. (local time).
Then on October 8, find the Moon and look below for Jupiter. The Giant Planet shines far brighter than all the stars, rising after sunset in the eastern skies and out all night. Watch it arch across the sky until it’s in the west at sunrise.
And on October 14, find the Moon and spot Mars nearby. The Red Planet, which actually appears orange, reaches a brilliant magnitude –0.86 and rises in the east at 10 p.m. (local time) in Taurus. You’ll know Mars not only by its orange hue but also because it will appear brighter than most of the nearby stars, and remain high in the sky when the sun rises.
Mercury, which reaches a very bright magnitude –1.0, rises for its best 2022 appearance as a “morning star,” especially after the 12th. Look before sunup towards the east.
Venus is hidden in the sun’s glare now and move behind the Sun (as seen from Earth) when ithas its superior conjunction on the 22nd.
A partial solar eclipse, not visible from the U.S. or Canada, appears over parts of Greenland, Iceland, Europe, northeastern Africa, the Middle East, western Asia, India, and western China on the 25th. See 2022 eclipse dates.
October 8 to 9: Draconid Meteor Shower
Unfortunately, the Draconids will be washed out by the full Moon (on the 9th) this year. If you wish to watch, your best best is the evening of October 8.
Late evening is the best time to see these shooting stars, which will radiate from the constellation Draco, the dragon (near the bright star of Vega).
The Draconids aren’t a major meteor shower (about six meteors per hour) but they do kick off the busy meteor shower season! Plan ahead and mark your calendars. See the Meteor Shower Guide.
October 9: Full Hunter’s Moon Rises
October’s full Moon appears on October 9, 2022. Similar to last month’s Harvest Moon, the Hunter’s Moon is tied to an astronomical event, the autumnal equinox, and rises around the same time for several nights in a row. Start looking for it on Tuesday, October 8!
Traditionally, the Hunter’s Moon marked the time to go hunting in preparation for the cold months ahead. Learn more about Hunter’s Moon—and why it often appears bigger!
October 20 to 21: Orionid Meteor Shower
The Orionids traditionally have the best shooting stars in October. This year’s looking good! The new Moon falls on October 25. So, at the Orionids’ peak, the Moon will be in a waning crescent phase and rise in the early morning hours. It’ll be up there, but not too bright.
The Orionids radiate from the well-known constellation Orion the Hunter, specifically from a point near the hunter’s club. When looking for the meteor shower, look away from the Moon towards darker regions of the sky. See the Meteor Shower Calendar more more info.