What to see in the sky in October: Hunter's Moon and Orionids meteor shower

How you can spot Jupiter above Norfolk this week

A Norfolk astronomer - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

October's night sky will be full of things to see including the first full moon after the autumn equinox, Jupiter, Saturn, and two meteor showers.

Here are some things to look out for in the sky this month.

The moon over Norwich on 22/10 and 23/10 (Image: Dave Stapleton)

The Hunter's Moon over Norwich by Dave Stapleton - Credit: Archant

The Moon

Phases for October are as follows:

  • New moon - October 6
  • First quarter - October 13
  • Hunter's Moon - October 20
    • This moon gets its name from those it aids, flooding fields with light to illuminate prey and make hunting easier.
  • Last quarter - October 28
solar system gas giant jupiter with moons

Jupiter will be much brighter than Saturn and surrounding stars - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Planet and Stars

Mercury will be hidden by sun glare in early October and will then move between the Earth and the sun. By the end of the month, the planet will be visible for half an hour before morning twilight.

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Venus will be visible low on the horizon, near the red star Antares. The planet will meet the red star in the middle of the month and will be visible alongside the crescent moon.

Mars will have no visibility this month, moving behind the sun by October 8.

The planet won't be visible again until December.

Jupiter is continuing eastward of Saturn, shifting away as it does a smaller orbit of the sun.

To our eyes the planets will still appear close. Jupiter will be much brighter than Saturn and surrounding stars and will be visible predominantly in the evening.

Saturn is brighter than nearby star Fomalhaut. From October 13 to 15, Saturn, alongside the moon and Jupiter, will be visible to the south.

Uranus is reaching its best time of year for viewing, coming into opposition in early November. The planet could be glimpsed with the eye, but can be identified with binoculars.

Neptune will stay in the Aquarius constellation, though visibility will be low. A blue hue will be visible through binoculars and the planet will reappear in January.

Perseids Meteor Shower and where to see them in the south east of England

Draconids and Orionids meteor showers will occur in October - Credit: MK Feeney / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Meteors Showers

Draconids

Active between October 7 and 11 and peaking between October 8 and 9, this shower is associated with Comet 21/P Giacobini-Zimmer.

The waxing crescent moon will set before nightfall so will not hinder the shower's visibility.

It is more visible during the early evening and there is a chance you could see hundreds of meteors an hour.

Orionids

Active between October 1 and November 6 and peaking on October 21, these meteors are fast with fine trains.

Around 15 meteors an hour will occur, though visibility may be poor. 

This shower is associated with Halley's Comet, being made of the comet's debris.

The full moon may disrupt the viewing of these comets, with light flooding the sky.

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