All information presented here is taken from my 74 page book NightScenes 2016.

Nightscenes 2017 is now available and can now be ordered

Click on the monthly image to get a larger high resolution view of the night sky set for 53° N (Horncastle, England) but is usable for the UK and Eire.  All charts are set for the 1st of the month at 22:00 GMT (10pm), 23:00 BST during Summer Time and can be used on the other dates and times shown in each corner of the chart.

October 2016

The visible planets & small worlds

For most charts see the buttons at the top for various planets etc.. Charts & images in the text can be clicked to give a larger view.

Oct-mn-ven.jpgOn Oct-mn-sat.jpgOct 3rd the slim crescent moon lies close to Venus in bright twilight whilst the planet lingers in the early evening twilight seemingly hugging the SW horizon shortly after sunset (left).

 The crescent moon then lies either side of Saturn on the evenings of the 5th & 6th (right).


Saturn is now quite low and dropping deeper into the twilight and as it does so it is in conjunction (white line) with Venus on the 30th as shown here. The chart at right is from October 27th until 31st with closest approach actually on the 29th (yellow line). Look for them around 6:30pm before they get too low and set. Note that Saturn moves down towards the right whilst Venus slopes slowly towards the left.


Meanwhile, Mars keeps ahead of the twilight and races through Sagittarius passing several interesting stars and deep sky objects as it does so. First up, it forms a triangle with the globular cluster M28 and Lambda Sgr, Kaus Borealis on the 5th then next evening lies close to the star passing under it by the following evening. The moon lies high up above Mars on the 8th and then next evening Mars lies just over 1.5 degrees below the bright globular cluster M22. By the 12th it is a similar distance above Phi Sgr then passes above Sigma Sgr, Nunki, on the evenings of the 15th & 16th. It then spends the next ten evenings passing below the Teaspoon asterism. Technically, Mars is in conjunction with Pluto on the 18th when the red planet lies under the bowl of the spoon and Pluto lies just to the upper right of Omicron Sgr.

Oct-mn-uranus.jpgNeptune is well placed to view now in the evenings over in Aquarius so make sure you take a look at the official last planet in our Solar System check out it’s position via the Uranus and Neptune link at top. In the meantime, Uranus now comes to opposition on the 15th and so becomes viewable all night. It lies in Pisces and shines at magnitude 5.7 so is technically a naked eye object. You need very dark clear skies and good eyesight to spot it but the night of opposition also coincides with an almost Full Moon - which is no coincidence as Full Moon has to occur when the moon is opposite the sun in the sky, hence the term opposition. So the best time to look with the naked eye is at the start and end of the month when there is no moonlight to affect your view. The chart here is set for 9pm and Uranus is  marked for Oct 1st, to Dec 1st with its position and the Moon shown for October 15th. Uranus is shown greatly exaggerated of course! More charts showing the motion of Uranus across the sky can be found from its link above.


Talking of opposition, Dwarf Planet Ceres also reaches opposition this month, on the 21st. This tells you that as their oppositions are quite close in date then Ceres and Uranus must be in a similar area of the sky and indeed they are, Ceres is in neighbouring Cetus, indeed see how close they are with this chart here. Both are retrograding but note how much more Ceres moves across the sky than the more distant Uranus. They are both shown from Oct 1st to Dec 1st with Uranus shown for Nov 1st as well, whilst Ceres is marked for the 1st of each month plus its opposition date. More details for Ceres can be found on asteroids and dwarves link at top.


In the morning twilight sky Mercury is viewable for the first two weeks and as it descends back towards the solar glare it encounters Jupiter for a nice conjunction on the 11th.

Meanwhile the Moon once again occults several of the Hyades star cluster on the morning of the 19th so details are on the occultation's link above.


Still with the morning sky and the moon lies below Regulus in Leo on the 25th and occults the star 31 Leonis which is 4.3 magnitude but so easily found it is worth mentioning it here. All parts will be able to view the occultation so begin to watch around 3:20am as the moon creeps towards 31 Leonis (right). Southern parts will see the occultation begin first at ~3:30am with reappearance an hour later. Northern parts see 'D' at ~3:47am with 'R' at ~04:34am. Extrapolate the timings between the two extremes to get an idea of when to watch from your own location.

October has three Meteor shower peaks and two are reasonably favourable. The Draconids meteor shower peaks on the 8th and the Southern Taurids meteor shower on the 10th with the latter best seen in the early hours before dawn.  Unfortunately the Orionids meteor shower peaks on the 21st but is spoiled by moonlight as it is also a shower best seen in the morning and the almost last quarter moon will affect them.

  Clear skies and happy sky watching.


The UK & Ireland Night Sky for 2016 AD


British Summer Time, also known as Daylight Saving Time, ends on Sunday, October 30th at 2 am when the clocks should be put back 1 hour to give GMT.

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