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The October Night Sky

The sky is not a painting, it's a movie. Stars pulse, flare, some explode as supernova, asteroids whiz by the earth, new comets appear in the sky, Aurora sets the northern skies ablaze and meteors streak through Earth's atmosphere.

 Astronomy Picture of the Day

See below Hubble site Tonight's Sky, highlights of this months night sky movie with narration below. Click on photo below.

The Full Moon for October

 The Full Hunter’s Moon or Full Harvest Moon. This full Moon is often referred to as the Full Hunter’s Moon, Blood Moon, or Sanguine Moon. Native Americans named this bright moon as leaves are falling from trees, the deer are fattened, and it’s time to begin storing up meat for the long winter ahead. Because the fields were traditionally reaped in late September or early October, hunters could easily see fox and other animals that come out to glean from the fallen grains.


Lunar Phases

First Quarter Moon October 1 3:33 pm EDT
Full Moon October 8 6:51 am EDT
Last Quarter Moon October 15 3:12 pm EDT
New Moon October 23 5:57 pm EDT
First Quarter Moon October 30 10:48 pm EDT

October  Lunar Highlights

In the evening sky October 25th, a waxing crescent passes about 3° degrees upper left of Saturn. October 28th, the crescent Moon passes almost 8° degrees above Mars.

The Planets Visibility for October


Morning sky E

Mercury becomes visible again in the late October morning sky just before sunrise. On October 22nd, Mercury, if you can find this difficult target before sunrise, it will display a very thin crescent, almost five degrees below a very thin phase 2.15 % crescent Moon. Mercury on October 22nd rises at 6:29 a.m. and the sun rises at 7:25 a.m. EDT.


Morning sky E

 Venus is lost in the Sun's glare. Venus will next reappear in the December evening sky.


Evening sky SW

Mars sets October 28th at 9:18 p.m. EDT. To find Mars look for a reddish object low in the southwest sky. It is located in the constellation Sagittarius. Mars is at +0.9 magnitude and a diameter of 00'.06". On October 28th the Moon is an Angular separation from Mars of: 07°52'29". Look for the Teapot in Sagittarius to the left of Mars and Moon, see image below. 

To see which part of the surface is visible at any time, check out the Mars Profiler at Sky & Telescope Magazine's web page.


 Morning sky E

Jupiter is at -2.1 magnitude and a diameter of 00'.36" located in the constellation Leo the Lion. Jupiter rises around 1:25 a.m. EDT on the 25th. Jupiter is  easily visible in the morning sky. Look for the Sickle of Leo to find Leo the Lion. Jupiter lies 10° degrees above the bright star Regulus.

A small telescope will easily reveal four of Jupiter's largest and brightest moons. Check out Sky & Telescope's Jupiter Moons Utility for other configurations. Sky and Telescope Red Spot Calculator  


Evening SW Sky

On October 25th look right after sunset for Saturn and a thin crescent three day old Moon only 3° degrees apart. Saturn is at magnitude +0.6 and diameter 00'.15". Saturn on the 25th will be low in the southwest and sets at 7:20 p.m. EDT. See image below. Saturn is located in the constellation Libra. Saturn soon to be lost in the suns glare will next reappear in the morning sky in early December.

Through a small telescope Saturn will reveal the famous rings of the planet. Rings currently are 22.7 tilt. See: Saturn's moons locations


Evening Sky E Morning SW

 Uranus at October 25th is at 5.7 magnitude and diameter 00'.04" is up after sunset and sets 6:03 a.m. EDT. Uranus is located in the constellation Pisces. A moderate-sized telescope will show it as a green-gray disk. See finder charts: Sky & Telescope


Evening Sky SE

Neptune October 25th is at 7.8 magnitude and diameter 00'.02" is up in the east after sunset and at sets 2:48 a.m. EDT. A moderate-sized telescope will show it as a blue green disk. Neptune is located in the constellation Aquarius. See finder charts: Sky & Telescope

Bright Asteroids

Midmonth asteroid 4Vesta is at magnitude 7.8 located in Scorpius and Asteroid 1Ceres  at magnitude 9.0 in Libra and close to Saturn. See 2014 pdf finder charts: Chart

Dwarf Planets


 Pluto at midmonth is visible in the south after sunset  amid the stars of the Milky Way in the constellation Sagittarius. Pluto is at magnitude +14.1 and diameter 00'.00"  A large telescope is needed to see this distant object.


Comets Brighter than 8 Magnitude

C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS) 6.9 Magnitude

PANSTARRS is in the predawn southern sky October 25th, located in Puppis rising at 2:52 a.m on October 25th. The comet will be very very low on the horizon making it a difficult object to find. It will be visible with binoculars or small telescope as a very faint and fuzzy object at 6.9 magnitude on the 25th. The comet soon becomes to low to be seen from the northern hemisphere.

For more on current Comets and locations see: Seiichi Yoshida web site here.


The Orionid meteor shower peaks on the morning of October 21-22, 2014 with a predicted rate of around 25 meteors per hour. The meteors can be observed several days before and after the peak of the 21-22 but with fewer meteors. The Orionids are named this because they seem to appear from a point in the sky called the radiant, which for the Orionids is in the constellation Orion, however they can be seen over a large area of the sky radiating from this point. The Orionids meteor shower is a result of Earth passing through the dust of the debris released by Halley's Comet. The waning crescent Moon this year will not interfere with seeing the meteors. The best time to observe the meteors is early morning hours (Overhead at 5:30 a.m.) to before dawn when the the radiant is highest in the sky and meteors are traveling at a speed of around 140,000 miles per hour and meteors are brightest and swiftest as they hit earth more directly.

See: Listen to Meteors , American Meteor Society, Meteors Online also NASA All Sky Network

Some local links below to Heavens Above satellite information website.

Satellites Visible from York

Satellites visible from Hanover

Satellites visible from Gettysburg

Satellites visible from Lancaster

Satellites visible from Baltimore

Satellites visible from Harrisburg

Also see: Spaceflight NASA

 The Sun

Real time solar wind dials are linked live to the ACE Spacecraft.

 If the dial on the left (Magnetic Field) has dipped below zero, the speed is high and the dial dynamic pressure is in the yellow/red, be alert for Aurora. Anytime the gauges are in the Red and the dial on the left, the Magnetic Field BZ has dipped to the yellow-red... Aurora will be occurring in our area. See link to solar wind gauge here: REAL TIME SOLAR WIND

See explanation of  solar wind dials below by clicking on photo of dials

Solar Wind Dials


Use your hand to find degrees

NASA Night Sky Network Planner

Free download. AstroPlanner  

Download a free starmap at: Skymaps

Make your own starmap at: Star Finder

Download a free Planetarium for your computer at: Stellarium or Hallo Northern Sky Stellarium has many extra features.

Your Sky - Fourmilab

Your night sky map on the internet

Sky & Telescope Interactive Sky Chart Register to use.

Sky Map