Arizona’s October skies offer famous moon, rarely-seen Uranus
With the end of the summer and the Arizona monsoon — along with the proper preparation — we can all get set for some amazing sights in our October skies.
We begin with the moon, which opens up October with a waxing gibbous phase — past the first quarter and not quite full. The gibbous moon has an egg-like shape and will soon become full.
One of the most famous full moons of the year, the Harvest Moon, will rise Oct. 5.
This moon is not one to miss, as it will rise at or near sunset and appear in Arizona skies well ahead of many of the other full moons that we see during the year.
With clear skies, we will see a bright moon in a still-twilit sky.
This particular moon was helpful to farmers who needed extra light to harvest the crops.
The moon will then move on to last quarter on Oct. 12 and continue moving to the east in the sky as a waning crescent moon.
The new moon, or the so-called “Dark of the Moon,” will occur on Oct. 27, just in time for Halloween.
The October sky will also be full of major planets, too!
Look low in the west at sunset, as Jupiter moves into the glare of the sun and reaches its own conjunction with the star, on Oct. 26.
Moving left in the sky, past Jupiter, we come to Saturn. It will still be easy to see during October and a small telescope will reveal the amazing ring system.
Saturn is now about 960 million miles from us and its light takes well over 85 minutes to get here.
Beyond Saturn, we’ll come to a planet that many of you may have never seen before.
Uranus will come into opposition on Oct. 19.
It was the first major planet discovered beyond Saturn, back on March 13, 1781, by astronomer William Herschel.
Uranus takes 84 years to make a trip around the sun and can be seen with a pair of binoculars. It will appear as a greenish-looking star. The planet will appear much better in a small or large telescope.
Uranus will lie in the constellation of Pisces and be just at the limit of naked-eye visibility with dark skies.
Here is a finder chart to help you locate Uranus.
Uranus has some 27 known moons.
Finally, Venus will appear as a bright object low in the east just before sunrise.
One last event for our October skies will be the annual Orionid meteor shower, which will peak on the morning of Oct. 21. Look to the east around 2 a.m. local time for a decent display of meteors from the constellation Orion.
Just in case you missed Halley’s Comet back in 1986: The Orionid meteors are debris from this most famous comet.
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- Catch a glimpse of marvelous Orion Nebula from your Arizona yard
- Arizona skywatchers will be treated by Mars, Jupiter and moon this month