In this month's Sky Notes:

Planetary Skylights

29-Oct-2016 at 18:15h:
Mars, Saturn and Venus

Three planets may be glimpsed low in the evening twilight sky, as long as you have a clear unobstructed SW horizon.  Bright Venus skulks just above the horizon all month, half an hour or so after sunset. 

Saturn and Mars may be located further round to the SSW.  Saturn appears like a white star, Mars masquerades as a brighter orange one.  As the month progress Saturn and Venus close up and by the 29th they appear one above the other (Venus will be below Saturn) View around 18:15h.  The moon lies closest to Venus on the 3rd, Saturn on the 5/6th and Mars on the 8th.

11-Oct-2016 at 06:45h:
Jupiter and Mercury

At the start of the month Jupiter and Mercury reside in the early morning sky.  Jupiter is initially lower than Mercury and far brighter.  Mercury starts the month around 6 degrees above the east horizon, however it will have dropped out of sight again by 17th. 

View from the 8th-13th when the two planets are in close proximity with Mercury dropping from above Jupiter, to below, over this period.  The pair are closest on the 11th.  You will require an unobstructed east horizon, view around 06:40h.  As the month progresses Jupiter begins to climb further into the east sky earlier each morning.  The crescent moon lies above it on the 28th.


Meteor Showers

There are a number of meteor showers this month, the weak Piscid shower has three peak dates, Oct 13th being the optimum.  Observed rates are little better than sporadic levels - around 3-7 per hour.  The Giacobinids or Draconids peak on the 9th.  The shower is very erratic, but can produce outbursts of activity so keep an eye open. 

The most reliable shower is the Orionids, peaking around the 21st.  Like May’s Eta Aquarids, Orionids are associated with Comet Halley, Orionids are swift, often producing persistent trains.  Hourly rates are in the mid twenties; however with light from a full moon hampering, observed rates will be substantially lower this year.

October 2016 Sky Charts

Click each image to see a full-size Sky Chart:

Looking North
Mid-October - 21:00h

Looking South
Mid-October - 21:00h

Looking East
Mid-October - 21:00h
Looking West
Mid-October - 21:00h
20th-October - 21:00h


Additional Image Credits:

  • Planets and Comets where not otherwise mentioned: NASA
  • Sky Charts: Stellarium Software