The Night Sky This Month: October 2022

Meteor Shower
Image Credit: Austin Schmid on Unsplash

Planetary viewing remains poor in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly for observers located at or above latitude 450N. Moreover, most of the planets will remain within about 20 or so degrees above the horizon for observers at or above latitude 500N throughout October. This could make it difficult to obtain clear views of most planets.

Therefore, the details of the planets that are visible during October apply to observations made from about latitude 250N and below. Here is what observers from these latitudes can expect to see.

The Moon Phases in October 2022

First Quarter Full Moon Third Quarter New Moon
October 3rd October 9th October 17th October 25th

The Planets in October 2022

The planet Mercury is now approaching its point of greatest western elongation from the Sun, and will therefore not be readily visible throughout the month.

The planet Venus will soon pass behind the Sun, and at the start of the month, Venus will be within about 5 degrees of our star. By month’s end, the planet will be within about 2 degrees of the Sun, meaning that Venus will not be readily visible throughout October.

The planet Mars is now visible as an early morning object since it is approaching a point of opposition. Note that while the Red planet will become accessible in the east from about midnight as October starts, it will remain within 10 degrees above the horizon. However, during the second half of October, Mars will become accessible at about 22:15 (EDT), and rise to an elevation of about 88 degrees above the southern horizon, before becoming lost in the brightening sky at about 07:11 (EDT)

The planet Jupiter is also approaching a point of opposition, and the King of the planets is therefore also visible as an early morning object at the beginning of the month. While the planet will remain within 10 degrees of the eastern horizon, it will reach an elevation of about 63 degrees above the southern horizon about an hour or so after midnight.

By the end of October, Jupiter will have passed its point of opposition. It will therefore become an early evening object from about 18:55 (EDT) at an elevation of about 28 degrees above the eastern horizon during the second half of the month, rising to its maximum elevation of about 62 degrees above the southern horizon.

The planet Saturn had passed its point of opposition on August 14, and it is, therefore, visible as an early evening object from about around 19:33 (EDT), 34 degrees above your south-eastern horizon at the beginning of the month.

By October’s end, Saturn will become visible from about 19:08 (EDT) at an elevation of 45 degrees above your southern horizon, before rising to its highest point in the sky at 20:08 (EDT), at an elevation of 47° above the southern horizon. However, the planet will only remain visible until about 00:43 (EDT) when it sinks below 10° above the southwestern horizon.

Meteor Showers in October 2022

The Draconids Meteor Shower is expected to peak in the early evening of October 7th, but note that this shower, which originates from debris left behind by the comet 21P Giacobini-Zinner, rarely, if ever, produces more than about 10 or so meteors during its peak hours.

Moreover, this year, the light from the First Quarter Moon will extinguish all but the brightest meteors, which means that it will be very difficult to distinguish Draconids meteors from the background activity given that Draconids can appear to come from any point in the sky.

Deep Sky Objects to Look for in October 2022

NGC884 (Caldwell 14, Cr 25, Mel 14, Raab 10, OCl 353, Chi Per Cluster, χ Persei)

Located about 7,600 light-years away in the constellation Perseus, the open star cluster NGC884 is the easternmost member of a pair of open clusters that are only a few hundred light years apart. Although the pair of star clusters both form part of the Perseus OB1 Association, they are not physically related, and in small telescopes at low power, both clusters are visible in a single field of view.

Look for the pair of clusters, the other member being designated as NGC 869, between the constellations Perseus and Cassiopeia where they shine as a bright patch of light when viewed without optical aid.

M92 (Messier 92, NGC 6341, GCl 59)

We have listed M92 before, but it is well worth revisiting this magnificent magnitude 6.5 globular star cluster in the constellation Hercules.

M92 is not only among the oldest of the Milky Way’s globular clusters; it is also among the brightest in terms of its apparent magnitude, making it one of the few globular clusters that can be viewed without optical aid under dark skies. In addition, M92 is also among the most massive of the Milky Way’s globular clusters, having a true diameter of 109 light years and an estimated mass of about 330 000 Suns.

M10 (GCl-49, NGC 6254)

Located about 14,300 light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus, M10 may be only about 83 light years in diameter, but its stellar density is so high that its overall metal content displays significant evidence of having been enriched by heavy elements that were created by the so-called s-process during Type II supernovae events. However, although the cluster’s heavy-element content is only about 3.5% of that of the Sun as measured at its surface, it is significantly higher than the heavy-metal content of most of the other 250 or so globular clusters that are associated with the Milky Way galaxy.

Look for this spectacular globular cluster about one degree to th4 westward of the bright orange star 30 Ophiuchi, which is located roughly in the center of the constellation Ophiuchus

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