High pressure has finally replaced gray gloomy weather in the Northeast, which means October — at least the first two weeks of it — will be great for nighttime sky watching. And there’s plenty to see this month, including three lunar conjunctions, two meteor showers and the Hunter’s moon.
Thursday, Oct. 11 — Moon and Jupiter
A very bright Jupiter and a sliver of the moon will cozy up next to each other. After sunset, look toward the southwest, and you’ll see a faint crescent moon along with the bright Jupiter. They will be together until they set below the horizon around 8 p.m. local time.
Sunday, Oct. 14 — Moon and Saturn
Look southwest after sunset, and you’ll see Saturn very close to the crescent moon. To the right near the horizon, you might be able to see Jupiter, which should be bright. To the left, early due south, you’ll see the pink-hued planet Mars.
Wednesday, Oct. 17 — Moon and Mars
Mars now gets its turn with the moon. The pair will be in the southeast sky just after sunset and at their highest point in the south at 8:30 p.m., local time. Catch them before they sink beneath the horizon around 12:30 a.m.
Sunday, Oct. 21 — Orionids meteor shower
The Orionids meteor shower lasts from Sept. 23 to Nov. 27, but it peaks Oct. 21, which means it is the best chance to spot a shooting star that originated from Halley’s comet. Astronomers say the best time to watch for these meteors is between midnight and dawn on the days leading up to Oct. 21, when the moon will be below the horizon.
The Orionids are known for their brightness and speed, according to NASA, moving at 148,000 mph into the atmosphere. At its peak, this shower can produce 20 meteors per hour.
Sunday, Oct. 21 — Uranus opposition
A planet’s opposition occurs when it is opposite the sun from our perspective on Earth. Because of its position, it is fully lit by the sun — just like a full moon. Uranus will be at its brightest of the year Oct. 23, although because of the full moon, you’ll have a better chance to see it on the days leading up to that.
Wednesday, Oct. 24 — Full Hunter’s moon
The Hunter’s Moon is slated for Oct. 24, so called because it’s traditionally the time of year when hunters try to bring in as much meat as possible before winter arrives. Some Native American tribes also refer to it as the Beaver Moon because they have traditionally used this time to trap the furry animals as they busily prepare for winter.
Sunday, Oct. 28 — Mercury and Jupiter are super close
Just after sunset, Mercury and Jupiter will be very close in the southwest sky. The bright star Antares will also be close to their left. Farther up and left, you’ll be able to spot Saturn. Mars will be visible in the southeast.