This is your monthly guide to NASA launches, observing the planets, celestial events, moon phases, this day in space history, and other astronomy resources.
Observing The Planets:
- Mercury (morning planet, magnitude +1.4) is visible low above the horizon in the east before sunrise.
- Venus (morning planet, magnitude -4.7) is visible high in the east in the predawn sky.
- Mars (morning planet, magnitude +1.8, in Leo) is visible below Venus in the ease just before sunrise.
- Jupiter (morning planet, magnitude -1.7) is visible in the eastern predawn sky below Venus.
- Saturn (evening planet, magnitude +0.6, from Libra into Scorpius). By the end of October, it will be too low in the evening twilight to provide good views.
- Uranus (evening planet, magnitude +5.7, in Pisces) is visible in the east by 9 pm. Uranus will be at opposition, closest to Earth, on October 11th. On October 26 it will be close to the moon. Visible most of the night.
- Neptune (evening planet, magnitude +7.8, in Aquarius) is visible in the southeast by 9 pm. Visible most of the night.
Moon Phases & Celestial Events:
The best nights for viewing (moonless nights) will be from October 4 to Wednesday October 14.
- October 4: Last Quarter Moon at 5.06 pm CDT.
- October 8: Venus is 0.7° north of the Moon.
- October 8-9: Draconid meteors.
- October 9: Mars is 3° north of the waning crescent Moon.
- October 9: Venus is 3° south of Regulus.
- October 9: Jupiter 3° north of the waning crescent Moon.
- October 11: Mercury is 0.9° north of the Moon.
- October 11: Moon at apogee (farthest from Earth) at 8 am CDT with a distance of 406,388 km and an angular size of 29.4′.
- October 11: Uranus is at opposition. It will be closer, larger, and brighter than any other time this year. Because of its great distance from Earth (1.76 billion miles) Uranus will only appear as a small featureless disk in telescopes. The Voyager 2 spacecraft flyby in 1986 has provided almost all of our knowledge of the planet.
- October 12: New Moon at 7:06 pm.
- October 16: Saturn is 3° south of the Moon.
- October 17: Mars is 0.4° north of Jupiter.
- October 18: Double shadow transit of Io and Ganymede, moons of Jupiter, at 5:42-7:08 am CDT.
- October 20: First Quarter Moon at 3:31 pm CDT
- October 20-22: Orionid meteor shower peaks these nights. The Earth moves into the debris shower of Comet Halley.
- October 23: Neptune 3° south of the Moon.
- October 25: Double shadow transit of Io and Ganymede, moons of Jupiter, at 7:36-9:53 am CDT.
- October 26: Venus is 1.1° south of Jupiter.
- October 26: Uranus is 0.9° north of the Moon. This is a good opportunity to observe the planet. The moon will occult Uranus at 5 am CDT (visible from New Zealand and French Polynesia).
- October 26: Moon at perigee (closest to Earth) at 8 am CDT with a distance of 358,463 km and an angular size of 33.3′. Expect high tides for the next several days.
- October 27: Full Moon at 7:05 am CDT. The moon will rise around sunset and set around sunrise.
- October 28: Mercury is 4° north of Spica.
- October 29: The Moon will pass close to Aldebaran.
The following missions are scheduled for October:
Date: October 1, 2015.
Mission: Progress 61P Cargo Craft.
Description: The Progress resupply vehicle is an automated, unpiloted version of the Soyuz spacecraft that is used to bring supplies and fuel to the International Space Station.
Launch Vehicle: Soyuz spacecraft.
Launch Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Want to learn more about what goes on each week on the International Space Station? Watch NASA’s weekly Space to Ground video log.
This Day In Space History:
- October 4, 1957: Sputnik 1 was launched.
- October 6, 1992: The Human Spaceflight Agreement was signed by NASA and RASA to share astronauts and cosmonauts.
- October 7, 1959: Luna 3 photographs the far side of the Moon.
- October 7, 1885: Niels Bohr was born.
- October 10, 1846: William Lassell discovers Triton, moon of Neptune.
- October 11, 1969: Apollo 11 launched.
- October 13. 1968: The first live TV broadcast from space on Apollo 7.
- October 14, 1947: World’s first supersonic flight was taken by the Bell X-1.
- October 15, 1997: Cassini-Huygens spacecraft launched to explore Saturn.
- October 19, 2005: The final flight of a Titan IV rocket was launched. Replaced by the Atlas V and Delta IV.
- October 21 1923: The first public planetarium show was viewed in Deutsches Museum in Munich Germany.
- October 22, 2136 BC: First recorded solar eclipse (China).
- October 24, 1851: William Lassell discovers Ariel and Umbriel, moons of Uranus.
- October 25, 1671: Giovanni Cassini discovers Lapetus, moon of Saturn.
- October 28, 1971: Great Britain launches its first satellite.
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