Sky Gazing This Month

October 4: Close Approach of Moon and Beehive Cluster (M44)

4 Moon and M44
Moon will pass within 54′ of M44 on October 4. (Image: Dominic Ford, In-The-Sky)

M44, also known as the Beehive Cluster, is an open cluster in the constellation of Cancer. It is one of the nearest open clusters to Earth at a distance of 577 light years. In the early hours of October 4, our Moon and M44 will be just 0 degrees and 54 minutes apart. Moon will be 25 days old and will be at a magnitude of -11.3 whereas M44 will be at an apparent magnitude of 3.1 (visible with naked eye). In India, the pair will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 01:22 (IST) – 4 hours and 54 minutes before the Sun – and reach an altitude of 58° above the eastern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks at around 06:00.

October 10: Conjunction of Mercury and Moon

This event will be hardly observable from any part of the world as the Moon will be just 1 day old meaning it approximately will rise and set with the Sun. Mercury will be quite low in the horizon during the time of conjunction and will be hidden in the glare of Sun. However, the duo will be just 5 degrees and 51 minutes apart.

October 12: Close Approach of Moon and Jupiter

12 Moon and Jupiter
The position of Moon and Jupiter at 6 p.m. in the Capital. It will be a challenging task to see this conjunction. (Image: Dominic Ford, In-The-Sky)

The Moon and Jupiter will make a close approach, passing within 3°56′ of each other. The Moon will be 2 days old. The Moon will be at mag -10.1, and Jupiter at mag -1.8, both in the constellation Libra. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars. It can be a bit challenging to see this event as the duo will be low in the south west at dusk.

October 15: Conjunction of Moon And Saturn

15 Moon and Saturn
Moon and Saturn will be at conjunction on October 15. This is a must watch event in October. (Image: Dominic Ford, In-The-Sky)

This is one of the best astronomy event of October. The Lord of the Rings and Moon will be just 1°47′ apart and will be clearly visible in the evening of October 15 from most parts of the world. The Moon will be 6 days old and shine at a magnitude of -11.4 whereas the majestic Saturn will be at mag of +0.3. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars. From India, the pair will become visible at around 18:05 (IST) as the dusk sky fades, 36° above your southern horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 4 hours and 21 minutes after the Sun at 22:10.

October 18: Close Approach of Moon and Mars

18 Moon and Mars
Moon and Mars will be too close in Capricornus on October 18. This event will be visible from most parts of the world. This sky chart is for New Delhi, India at 8 p.m. IST. (Image: Dominic Ford, In-The-Sky)

The Moon and Mars will make a close approach, passing within 1°54′ of each other. The Moon will be 9 days old. On October 20, the pair will be in Capricornus. Moon will shine at an apparent magnitude of -12.1 whereas Mars will be at -0.9 From India, the pair will be visible in the evening sky, becoming accessible at around 18:03 (IST) as the dusk sky fades, 36° above your south-eastern horizon.

October 21: Orionids Meteor Shower

meteor shower in the night sky
Meteor shower in the starry night sky and milky way in the background.

The Orionid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 21 October 2018. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from 16 October to 30 October.

Annual meteor showers arise when the Earth passes through streams of debris left behind by comets and asteroids. As pebble-sized pieces of debris collide with the Earth, they burn up at an altitude of around 70 to 100 km, appearing as shooting stars.

From New Delhi, the radiant of the shower will appear 20° above your eastern horizon at midnight. This means you are likely to see only around 8 meteors per hour, since the radiant will be low in the sky, reducing the chance of seeing meteors. The Moon will be 12 days old at the time of peak activity, and being so close to Full Moon will severely limit the observations that will be possible.

October 24: Uranus at Opposition

24 Uranus
On October 24, Moon will be close to Uranus thus giving some idea in order to locate the planet in a telescope. At opposition, Uranus will be in the sky from sunset to sunrise. (Image: Dominic Ford,  In-The-Sky)

Uranus will be well placed for observation, in the constellation Aries. It will be visible for much of the night, reaching its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At opposition, a planet makes its closest approach to Earth. So on 24th October, Sun, Earth and Uranus will be approximately in a straight line. Also, the planet will be visible through the night. Its apparent magnitude is +5.7 making it almost impossible to be seen with a naked eye. Uranus will be in Aries at opposition.

October 31: Another Close Approach of Moon and Beehive Cluster

31 Oct

On the Halloween, the Moon and the Beehive cluster will make their second close approach of the month, the first one being on October 4. This time the 22 days old Moon will pass within 0 degrees and 39 minutes of M44 in Cancer. The pair will be a little too widely separated to fit comfortably within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible through a pair of binoculars.

 

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