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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.

Partial Solar eclipse

WARNING: Never observe the Sun through any binoculars or telescopes without special solar filters. Failure to do so will cause blindness. See: Solar Filter Safety

 There will be a partial eclipse of the Sun October 23, 2014. The eclipse begins earlier for north west observers and sweeps across the United States when just before sunset for the east coast where observers will only see the beginning of the eclipse before the Sun sets. Eclipse begins at York, area at 5:49 p.m. (UT 21:49:27.8). The farther to the U.S. west the more of the eclipse can be observed. For east coast observers find a flat clear western horizon. The Sun sets at around 6:15 p.m. depending on your altitude above sea level and horizon. Large sunspot 2192 will be visible during eclipse. The sunspot is about  78,000 mile wide making it visible to the unaided eye. Read more at: NASA Spaceweather.

The below image shows the view of the eclipse and times as seen from York, Pennsylvania. Use the Solar Eclipse Computer to find your location and time: Solar Eclipse Computer Learn more at: NASA Mr. Eclipse also see: Eclipse for Beginners

Below you can see the Moons shadow move across the U.S. from north to southeastward. Visible is the day/night line or terminator of Earth. Times are Universal time on animation.

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

The morning of October 18th, a waning crescent Moon passes 7° degrees to lower right of Jupiter, forming a triangle with the star Regulus. 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 Moon on the night of October 11th passes through The Hyades that form the nearest open cluster to us . The cluster is a distance of only about 150 light years from Earth. About 11° degrees above the Moon is M-45 also known as The The Pleiades. The Pleiades also carry the name "Seven Sisters"; according to Greek mythology, seven daughters and their parents. The red star Aldebaran is imagined as the eye of Taurus the Bull. Aldebaran a giant reddish star is about 30 - 40 times the mass of our own Sun, and around 68 light years distant. See image below.

The Planets Visibility for October


Evening sky W

Mercury is lost in the Sun's glare.


Morning sky E

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


Evening sky SW

Mars has a close encounter with comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) on the 19th of October when the comet passes within 87,000 miles of the red planet. A large telescope of at least a 10 inch diameter reflector or 6-8 inch diameter refractor will most likely be required to see the comet as it is very faint. NASA plans to use the imagers in orbit and maybe the Mars rover to photograph this close call to Mars. Mars and the comet from Earth will appear only 00°11'14" Angular separation apart. For more information see: Spaceweather also CIOC

Mars sets October 11th at 9:32 p.m. EDT. To find Mars look for a reddish object low in the southwest sky. It is located in the constellation Ophiuchus and moves into the constellation Sagittarius on October 21st. Mars is at +0.8 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 -2.0 magnitude and a diameter of 00'.35" located in the constellation Cancer the Crab moving into the constellation Leo the Lion on October 15th. Jupiter rises around 1:57 a.m. EDT. Jupiter is  easily visible in the morning sky. The morning of October 18th, a waning crescent Moon passes 7° degrees to lower right of Jupiter, forming a triangle with the star Regulus. See below image.

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

Saturn October 11th sets at 8:10 p.m. and is at magnitude +0.6 and diameter 00'.15". On October 25th look right after sunset for Saturn and a thin crescent three day old Moon only 3° degrees apart. Saturn on the 25th will be low in the southwest and sets at 7:35 p.m. See image below. Saturn is located in the constellation Libra.

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 midmonth is at 5.7 magnitude and diameter 00'.04" is up after sunset and sets 6:44 a.m. 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 midmonth is at 7.8 magnitude and diameter 00'.02" is up in the east after sunset and at sets 3:28 a.m..  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) 7.0 Magnitude

Look for PANSTARRS to brighten in the predawn SE skies this October. Now located in Puppis early morning sky rising midmonth at 2:57 a.m on October 18th. The comet should now be visible with binoculars or small telescope as a very faint and fuzzy object difficult to see at 7.0 magnitude on the 18th. The comet on the 18th will be an Angular separation: 04°02'23.931" from the 2.45 magnitude star Aludra in Canis Major the "Larger Dog" constellation. Sirius the brightest star is about 19° degrees angular separation from the comet. See image below. Note# Comet is not as bright as depicted in image below.

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