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  • Mel Hulbert

What’s in the Sky - October 2020

Moon Phase:

Full Moon 2nd

Last Quarter 10th

New Moon 17th

First Quarter 24th

Summertime (Daylight Savings Time) begins in Australia on Sunday 4th at 2am (clocks go forward one hour).


Evening Sky

Jupiter is high overhead in the northern evening sky in the constellation of Sagittarius.

Saturn is also high in the northern evening sky in the constellation Sagittarius and is to the east of Jupiter.

Mercury is low in the western sky after sunset and moves from the constellation Virgo to Libra at the end of the first week.

Mars is in the eastern evening sky after sunset in the constellation of Pisces.

Morning Sky

Venus is low in the eastern morning sky and starts the month in the constellation Leo and moves into Virgo on the 23rd.

Mars is low in the western morning sky before sunrise in the constellation of Pisces.

Worth a Look:

7th: Mars is at its closest to Earth – a mere 62 million kilometres away. Best views will be through a telescope.

14th: Mars reaches opposition and will be at its best and brightest for the year. Opposition is when a celestial object is opposite the Sun in the sky as viewed from Earth. A telescope will give you the best views of the red planet on or around this date.

21st: October also sees the return of the annual Orionids meteor shower. Interestingly, this shower was first recorded in 288AD by Chinese astronomers. Meteor showers are caused when the Earth crosses the orbit of a comet and encounters a trial of debris/dust left by the comet. Certain meteors showers can be attributed to certain comets and the Orionids are associated with Halley’s Comet. Meteors are best seen after midnight, with the Orionids no exception. The shower is active from 2nd October until 7th November. Maximum occurs on the 21st however, the Orionids also experiences many sub-maximums that occur around this date and this combined with the fact that the last two decades have produced good rates of between 14-31 (average 20+) meteors an hour means that observations of this shower should certainly be worth the effort. The Orionids are usually bright and swift moving (approx. 66 km/s) with many leaving trains.

This year the waxing crescent Moon will set at 12:21am (AEDT) providing the perfect opportunity to observe this shower as the moonless hours after midnight and before twilight (twilight doesn’t start until 5:41am AEDT) will allow fainter meteors to be seen. While meteor showers are best observed away from city lights, brighter meteors are visible from city suburbs. Imaging meteor showers is not easy as the meteors can appear in any part of the sky. A wide angle lens is a must along with short continuous exposures and if you are lucky, you might capture a meteor or two!

You can download a star map for October here.

Clear Skies!


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