October 2015 planetary highlights
VENUS, MARS and JUPITER are still the stars of the pre-dawn sky, remaining aligned throughout the month of October. Venus is of course still the brightest, rising one hour before the Sun early in the month and two hours at the end. Our sister planet will reach Maximum Elongation (furthest distance from the Sun disk, from earth viewpoint) on October 26.
Venus will be at her closest to giant Jupiter also on October 26 and to Mars on October 31.
A remarkable event in October will be the Occultation of Venus by the Waning Moon, on October 9. The Moon will glide between the Earth and Venus, hiding our Sister Planet from view from about 4,30 to 6 am, in Eastern Australia. Venus will disappear behind the Moon for nearly one and half hours, a spectacle not to be missed, a sort of Venus Eclipse!
Below is a Stellarium’s snapshot of the Eastern sky on October 9, around 5.25 am, Occultation time.
Click the sky scapes to see larger images
MARS will rise earlier and earlier in the course of October.
MARS and JUPITER will appear at their closest on October 18 as shown in the picture below:
VENUS and MARS will be perfectly aligned on October 31 instead, as in the image below:
*MERCURY: if you didn’t spot little Mercury in September, while it was at its brightest setting after the Sun in the West, you have missed out for the time being. Mercury is in fact now a Morning Star, after reaching its Inferior Conjunction to the Sun on October 1. This Planet will be very hard to spot in October immersed as it is in the Sun rays before dawn. Mercury will return to the Western sky, setting after the Sun, only on November 18, day of its Superior Conjunction to the Sun.
Saturn remains visible throughout October in the North West, after sunset. An event that will make it easy to spot our ringed friend will be the alignment with the Waxing Moon, on October 16. Here is the Stellarium image of this conjunction:
All the Sky Snapshots have been generated using Stellarium, a wonderful Planetarium freeware software.
Information for the Sky Events has been gathered from these web sites: