October is packed with amazing stargazing this year. It begins with the Harvest Moon, ends with the Hunter’s Moon, and features Mars’ best appearance of the year. The stars of summer continue to fade in the evening twilight, while those of autumn climb higher into the longer, cooler nights.
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In the Sky This Month
October 24: Hamal
Hamal, the brightest star of Aries, is low in the east as night falls, far to the left of bright orange Mars. The star is a billion years younger than the Sun. Yet it’s past the end of its “normal” lifetime — a point the Sun won’t reach for five billion years.
October 25: Capella
The bright yellow-orange star Capella climbs into good view in the northeast by 8 or 9 p.m. The system consists of two stars that are bigger and heavier than the Sun. And even though they are much younger than the Sun, they’re already near the ends of their lives.
October 26: Cassiopeia
The brightest stars of Cassiopeia form one of the most prominent patterns in the night sky — a big letter M or W. It’s in good view in the northeast this evening, and wheels high across the north during the night.
October 27: Cassiopeia A
Cassiopeia A is an exploded star in the constellation Cassiopeia, which is high in the northeast at nightfall. The star is surrounded by filaments of oxygen, iron, sulfur, and other elements. They were forged inside the star or in the blast that ripped it apart.
October 28: Moon and Mars
The planet Mars stands close to the Moon tonight. It looks like a bright orange star to the left of the Moon in early evening, and above the Moon as they set, before dawn.
October 29: More Moon and Mars
Look for Mars in the southeast in early evening, shining like a bright orange star. The planet will stand to the upper right of the Moon as they climb into view, and below the Moon as they set, before dawn tomorrow.
October 30: Blue Hunter’s Moon
The Moon is full early tomorrow, making it a Halloween Moon. As the full Moon after the Harvest Moon, it’s the Hunter’s Moon. And as the second full Moon this month, it’s a Blue Moon. Put them together and it’s a Blue Hunter’s Halloween Moon.
Full Oct. 1, 4:05 pm
Last Oct. 9, 7:40 pm
New Oct. 16, 2:31 pm
First Oct. 23, 8:23 am
Full Oct. 31, 9:49 a m
Times are U.S. Central Time.
Apogee October 3, 30
Perigee October 16
The full Moon of October this year is the Harvest Moon. The second is the Hunter’s Moon. As the second full Moon of the month, it’s also a Blue Moon.