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It’s the perfect time for a preview tour of October skies in Arizona

With the arrival of the autumnal equinox Sept. 23, we now look forward to the new season, along with the cool and clear nights of October.

In Arizona, we have some of the best skies and the new month offers up some amazing sights to see.

In a previous column, I alerted readers to the purple sunsets which are caused by volcanic dust in the stratosphere.

Keep looking for these wonderful sunsets, as the sun will set closer to the early evening drive time.

Simply look to the western sky around 20 minutes after sunset.

Our nearest celestial object is the moon and here is how best to follow it in October.

As the month opens up, get set for the moon to appear as a slender crescent in the western sky.

The moon moves on to first quarter Oct. 5, followed by a gibbous moon, until we get set for the full hunter’s moon Oct. 13, at 2:08 p.m. Arizona time.

This is a most amazing full moon, as it rises here in Arizona around 6:18 p.m., near due east.

The moon then moves on to its last quarter phase Oct. 21, and then on to new moon phase Oct. 27.

A good time to view faint sky objects from dark skies, would be during the first and last weeks of October.

The moon will pass quite close to Jupiter on the evening of Oct. 3 and then moves very close to Saturn two days later.

There are many planets to view in our October skies.

Look low in the western sky on the evening of Oct. 19 to get a decent view of the planet Mercury. It will appear some 24 degrees from the setting sun.

Venus makes a return to the evening sky in October – look just below Mercury and very close to the western horizon.

Jupiter still appears bright in the SSW at sunset and great in a telescope.

Here is a Jupiter finder chart.

Saturn is just some 15 degrees to the left of Jupiter and still a great telescopic sight too.

Here is a Saturn finder chart.

Two other icy giants fill the October skies, as we get to see Uranus come to opposition on the night of Oct. 28. This is the next planet discovered in modern times, as Saturn was still the last of the ancient planets.

Uranus was discovered by William Herschel on the night of March 13, 1781.

Here is a finder chart for Uranus.

Finally, Neptune is an easy object for the telescopic observer and is located in the constellation of Aquarius, located in the southeast sky at sunset.

Here is a finder chart for Neptune.

October skies have something for everyone!

To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday morning at 3 a.m.

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