Astronomical SIGHTS Coming to a SKY NEAR YOU!

Graphics c/o Starry Night Education

This page updated Oct 7, 2018.

See the HOME page or COMING EVENTS for daily listings.

VIS. COMETS page has more details and finder charts for currently visible comets.

The Planets for October/November 2018:

Venus is quickly dropping out of sight in the west but has a last fling on Sep 21 when it reaches maximum brightness. After that it quickly drops toward the horizon and by the end of September she is lost in the solar glare. Venus reappears as Morning Star late in October. Mercury reappears as an Evening Star in October but it is not a good apparition for Northern Hemisphere viewers.

Both of the gas giants,
Uranus and Neptune are well up in the south by dark and continue to be good viewing this fall. Uranus is at opposition Oct 24, Neptune was there Sep 7.

Jupiter has peaked and will follow Venus into the western horizon by a month or so, so some Jupiter watching is still possible but it is not in nice steady air. The main planets for autumn are Saturn and Mars (and Uranus and Neptune) and all are well up by dark. Saturn is sitting above the Teapot lid and changes the appearance of Sagittarius noticeably. Continue to watch Mars even though it is past maximum size and starting to shrink in diameter and becoming noticeably gibbous. Some surface details are showing through even though the disk will shrink noticeably with time.

Dwarf planet, Pluto is in Sagittarius right between Mars and Saturn and visible only in moonless sky and with larger telescopes. Finder charts are found on our CHARTS/FORMS page.

October/November 2018 Sky Sights

Oct 8, 2018
Thin Moon Opportunity
A thin last crescent Moon appears above the eastern horizon before sunrise (7:30 am) and at only 16.7 hours before new, it will be a record for BAS members if anyone spots it. The conditions are good, -the crescent is almost directly above the Sun and rises in dark sky before twilight gets too obnoxious. Give it a shot. Images would be appreciated and necessary to confirm that you saw it.

Thin Moon Oct 8

Oct 9, 2018
Thin Moon opportunity in the west plus Planets!
Although not a record thin Moon at 20 hours young, this will still be a pretty sight in the western sky after sunset and an opportunity to view many (i.e., ALL 8) planets in one night along with the Moon! Diagram below shows a wide view of the sky at sunset (with twilight) and below that another view of the planets (as if the sky had NO daylight). Venus and Mercury have insets showing their phases as would be seen with a telescope at medium to high power. If you spot Venus and Mercury, you have all the hard work done, since the other 5 (Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Neptune, Uranus) are in the sky or will appear before midnight or so. That gives 7 planets, the Earth is 8 and since Pluto is a dwarf and not a “classical” planet anymore, you can notch up ALL the planets in one night and not even have to stay up past 10 pm!

Planets as they will appear Oct 9 after sunset out to Mars above the SE horizon.
Farther east Neptune is 10° high and Uranus rising shortly thereafter in the east.

Planets close to Sun are the biggest challenge on Oct 9 after sunset .
Insets give telescopic views of Venus, Mercury and Moon. This view removes daylight, but it will be the biggest factor to overcome in seeing the two inner planets nearest the Sun (lower right).

Oct 11 to 18, 2018 Crescent Moon near Planets
The Moon starts out Oct 9 in the western sky at 20 hours young, but over the next week travels eastward and appears near the major planets one after the other. By the time it is a FQ phase it will be near Mars, straddling it Oct 17 and Oct 18. The Moon’s march across the sky is an interesting progression as its lighted portion grows and surface details are revealed along the terminator as it progresses across the Moon’s face. If weather allows there is always something interesting to see on the Moon.

Oct 11 to 18 moon&planets
The Moon grows in phase and moves eastward from Oct 11 to 18 to appear, in turn, near the three planets in the sky right now

Oct 24, 2018 Uranus at Opposition 1 am
The planet Uranus reaches opposition at about the same time that the Moon becomes full in the last week of October. So if you are trying to see it with the naked eye, -it is theoretically visible at magnitude 5.7, but you need a dark sky and having the Moon nearby does not help. So try it earlier, Oct 9 or so, when the moon sets before Uranus rises or during LQ moon in early Nov. There is a nice comparison star with magnitude 5.9 within degree of Uranus right now and that may help to locate it, in binoculars, anyway.

Screen Shot 2018-10-05 at 12.23.58 PM
Uranus is at opposition on Oct 24 and theoretically visible to the naked eye at a dark site,
but unfortunately the FM is nearby. Try earlier before FQ to see if you can spot it with binos first then try for a naked eye view. A dark viewing site is required.

Nov 5&12, 2018 S. and N. Taurid Meteors
These two minor showers offer only 10 and 15 meteor trails per hour and occur during a 5% Moon phase (nearly New, rising just before dawn on Nov 5) and 25% Moon (first crescent sets by 9 pm Nov 12) so the sky will be dark for both. Both showers peak in early afternoon so observe the night before or after to get closest to the peak time.

Taurids Nov 5&12
The radiant of the N. and S. Taurids is shown above.

Nov 15, 2018 Mars near Moon
This will be an occultation in other parts of the world but a miss locally with both objects below our horizon at the time of closest approach. The best local view will be Mars above the gibbous Moon at a distance of 1°42’ when the pair set just before midnight on Nov 15.

Mars above Moon Nov 15
Mars and the Gibbous Moon set together in the west on Nov 15, 2018.

Nov 17, 2018 Leonid Meteor Shower (20/h)
This annual shower of 20 meteors per hour is not rated among the best of the year partly because numbers are few and the Moon is gibbous most of the night. Furthermore, Leo is not above the horizon until midnight or so. However, there is a good window of several dark hours after the Moon sets around 2 am, if you wish to spot meteors from this famous shower. In 2000 and 2001, several thousand per hour were reported during a Leonid Storm. Another one of these is not likely this year, -try again in 2032 or so.

A summary of the entire 2018 year of ASTRONOMY events can be found here:
ASTRONOMY 2018 Events
An astronomical calendar for 2018 (with diagrams of sky sights like those above) will be available soon for download from Alan Dyer's website here: (look at the bottom of the "about Alan" page).