Full Moon: Wednesday October 4th
Last Quarter: 11th
New Moon: 19th
First Quarter: 27th
Mercury is rarely easy. It can be found very low on the horizon in the western sky, around sunset. DO NOT LOOK AT THE SUN WITHOUT CERTIFIED PROTECTIVE FILTERING!
Venus continues to dazzle in the pre-dawn skies, but continues to get lower. Enjoy it in the early morning sky for the few weeks before it disappears from view.
Mars rises around 5 am in the east at the start of the month and around 4:30 around the end. It will be low in the sky and not very bright at first, but will continue to climb higher and get brighter as the month progresses.
Jupiter will not be visible this month, disappearing behind the Sun. It will reappear low in the pre-dawn sky in November.
Saturn is visible in the southwest at sunset, setting around 10:30 pm at the beginning of the month and setting a little after 8:30 pm at the end. Observing conditions will continue to degrade over the next few months as it continues to sink lower in the sky, before disappearing from view. That said, the planet is tilted at a great angle affording a great view of the rings. The Cassini Gap is visible in a modest scope so give it a look. This pretty planet is always worth a peek. It never disappoints.
This Ice Giant reaches opposition and is closest to Earth on the 19th and will be visible all night during October. It can be seen in binoculars and even seen with the naked eye in really dark skies. Noteworthy because it is very high in the sky. It hasn’t been this high since the 1960’s. This is a very faint object, very far from Earth, so if you are hunting Uranus, this would be your best time to look for it. In a telescope it will appear as small, pale, blue-green disk, with no surface detail visible. Still you will be able to saw you saw it with your own eyes.
This Ice Giant is visible all night long through a telescope. Neptune is found in Aquarius. The naked eye star Hydor, located only 0.5 degrees above the planet, will help you find it with binoculars or a telescope. On October 30, Neptune will be about 2 degrees above the Moon. This is the farthest planet from the Sun, more than 30 times more distant than we are.