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Red Dirt Astronomy: Skies & Space for October

September 30, 2022

Mercury –
The planet begins the month providing the best visibility for the northern hemisphere all year.  In the east before sunrise, it will be brighter than normal for Mercury.  However it will quickly slide back to the eastern horizon by mid month and soon lost in the glow of the rising sun.
Venus- Venus is too close to the sun to be visible this month.
Mars – Throughout the month the planet will brighten as is moves eastward through Taurus. On the 30th, Mars will be found between the horns of the great bull.
Jupiter – As the month begins, Jupiter will be bright in the evening sky at sunset. Moving near the constellation Pisces, it will be near the full moon on the 8th.
Saturn- Saturn remains in Capricorn with the moon passing close by on the evening of the 4th and 5th.
Uranus- Uranus will be visible by telescope all month in the evening sky.
Neptune- Neptune will also be visible all night this month by telescope. It remains in the constellation Aquarius.

Sky & Space Anniversary Events for October 2022
Oct. 3:
 First Quarter Moon
Oct. 5: Saturn is close to the Gibbous Moon
Oct. 8: Neptune is just N of the Moon
Oct. 9: Full Moon
Oct. 9: Lunar Orbiter 3 intentionally crashed into the moon (1967)
Oct. 11: Lunar Orbiter 2 intentionally crashed into the moon
Oct. 12: Uranus is just South of the Moon
Oct. 15: Mars just South of the Moon
Oct. 17: Last Quarter Moon
Oct. 18: Venera 4 Landing on Venus (1967)
Oct. 21: Orionid Meter Shower
Oct. 22: STS 52, Space Shuttle Atlantis, launched (1985) 
Oct. 23: STS 120, Space Shuttle Discovery launched (2007)
Oct. 25: New Moon

Object of the Month: Orionid Meteor Shower

In the hours after midnight on both October 20 & 21 before dawn the Orionid Meteors will be present. Originating near the bright star Betelgeuse in Orion, an observer under dark skies can expect 10 to 20 meteors per hour. This year the last quarter moon will be present whose light shouldn’t pose too much of a problem with seeing the Orionids as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Orionids are fast moving meteors which often provide a train lingering behind as the fall. This shower is also known for producing some bright fireballs.

The best time to watch the shower is around 2 a.m. This is when the radiant of the shower will be highest in the sky. …see the chart below.