You are here

In the Sky This Month

The longer, cooler nights of October offer some pleasant skywatching. Some of the signature constellations of autumn, including Pegasus and Andromeda, are in good view at nightfall and climb high across the sky around midnight. Under dark skies, look for the Andromeda galaxy, the most- distant object that is easily visible to the unaided eye — a whopping 2.5 million light-years away. On the planetary front, Venus is climbing into better view as the Evening Star, while Jupiter, the next-brightest light in the night sky, climbs into view in the dawn twilight by the middle of the month.

October 1: Aquarius

The faint constellation Aquarius is low in the southeast at nightfall on these early autumn nights. Its stars represent a man or boy pouring water from a vase. In Greek mythology, he was the water bearer to the gods.

October 2: Moon and Venus

The planet Venus stands in the west-southwest after sunset this evening. Although it is quite low in the sky, the brilliant “evening star” stands close to the left of the crescent Moon, so you shouldn’t have any trouble spotting it.

October 3: Moon and Companions

Venus, the “evening star,” stands close below the Moon as night falls. Zubenelgenubi, one of the brightest stars of Libra, stands closer to the upper left of Venus. Its name means “the southern claw,” and refers to the star’s history as one of the claws of Scorpius.

October 4: Moon and Planets

Start looking about 30 or 40 minutes after sunset for Venus, the “evening star.” It stands to the lower right of the Moon, quite low in the sky, so you need a clear horizon to spot it. A second planet, Saturn, is farther to the upper left of the Moon.

October 5: Moon and Saturn

The planet Saturn is in good view tonight. It stands close to the left of the Moon as night falls. It looks like a bright golden star, with its rings adding greatly to its luster. Any telescope will reveal the rings.

October 6: More Moon and Planets

Venus is the brilliant “evening star” quite low in the western sky shortly after sunset. Saturn is close to the lower right of the Moon, with orange Mars farther to the left of the Moon.

October 7: Moon and Mars

Look for Mars to the lower left of the Moon this evening. The planet looks like a bright orange star. Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun, which makes it the next outward from Earth.