Star Diary Podcast: What’s in the night sky, October 2021

A guide to Octobers 2021’s night sky in the northern hemisphere.

In the October 2021 episode of Star Diary we’re looking forward to more beautiful occultations and conjunctions, as well as the Draconid meteor shower and views of the planet Venus.


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Ezzy Pearson Greetings, listeners, and welcome to Radio Astronomy’s Guide to the best things to see in the night sky of the Northern Hemisphere in October 2021. I’m Ezzy Pearson and I’m joined on the podcast today by our reviews editor Paul Mooney, who is going to be telling us his best sights to see in this month’s sky. So, Paul, what are your recommendations for October 2021?

Paul Money Well, now we’ve got dark skies. We’re starting to see a lot more events, although, it has to be said, there’s still quite a few in the twilight conditions, usually down to the Moon and things like Venus. But you know what? It’s funny, because last month we started off with an occultation and we started off with the occultation again this month. But I mean, the fascinating because they do give us we’ve mentioned this before, it gives us an idea of the workings, the clockwork workings of the solar system. And I still get fascinated by watching the moon pass in front of a star and obliterate it. I mean, it’s amazing now to see the star just disappear. It’s an instant you know, it’s not a gradual… If it was a planet, you can see it gradually disappear. But it’s an instant and it really tells you the stars are a long way off and their pinpoint. So we’ve got a reasonably well known star in actual fact. And its position is ideal because it’s in the cycle of Leo and this is Eta Leonis on 3 October. You need to be looking, I’m afraid, it’s a morning object. Yes, we’ve got to set our alarms to see it. So you want to be looking around about 4:00 a.m. onwards because northern parts of England and all of Scotland will actually see a very close miss. So they don’t see the occultation. It’s more for  England and the south that actually gets the occultation. But anybody who is actually on the what we call the graze line, we’ll see a fascinating sight because what you see is the the star dip in and out of the mountains and valleys of the moon on the limb of the moon. And I’ve done that a couple of times. They really are difficult to observe. But the accuracy now of lunar occultation predictions is such that it’s become better to see them, easier to see them and to work out the track. So, you know, and it is quite something to see the star, just flicker. It just because it could it just may be on a mountain peak, then it disappears. And sometimes it can be a very brief period. If it’s really at the base of mountains and there’s some deep valleys, then you get a longer period sort of thing where, you know, you catch him. When I say longer period, I’m talking about tens of seconds at most. You know, I’m not I’m not talking about several minutes. This takes several seconds

Ezzy Pearson It’s a blink rather than a flash.

Paul Money Yes, exactly. It is a blink. You’re right. So, you know, we want to be looking in the morning. I always like to start well in advance because it’s nice to watch the moon gradually creep up against the star, towards the star. So this is Eta Leonis and it’s above it’s north of Regulus. I mean, Regulus is the heart of the lion, Leo the lion there. So it’s nice always when there’s a crescent moon above Regulus. Anyway, let’s say we’ve got a bonus of this occultation. And so it really depends on where you are as to whether you see a miss, a graze or an actual occultation because it’s on the northern limb of the moon. It will be a relatively short occultation, but I always say give yourself plenty of time and just keep watching. Or if you want if you’re into reimaging sort of thing, just leave the camera rolling, video it and sort of thing, and then watch it at your leisure afterwards. But I do think that fascinating events, it’s just a shame it’s in the morning sky. But that’s now that’s part of astronomy, isn’t it?  Beggars can’t be choosers.

Ezzy Pearson Sometimes we just have to get up in the morning.

Paul Money Exactly the sort of thing, you know, so and hope that it isn’t it isn’t reasonably… It’s it’s fairly up. So it’s not too low because sometimes these events for me, they happen so low I can’t see them because of things in the way. I’ve got an industrial estate and I’ve got a shrub filled bund, which is very good for hiding the industrial estate, but it does mean things have got to rise high enough before they clear the the bund, as we call it, on the bank. So that’s 3 October then, we start off with these occultation and I say, well worth having a look at. It is a fascinating thing to see these stars either disappear in the occultation or if you are right on that, Graze limit sort these amazing to see flickering, or as you say blinking in and out of the valleys, you know, and it’s on gives you a sense of… They used to use these as a way of mapping the lunar limb. When we had no…this was before they had orbiters or whatnot, it was a way of mapping the lunar limb and the features on the edge of the Moon. So I think, of course, it would change because of the liberation of the moon as well. So you always got a different result.

Ezzy Pearson Liberation being the wobble of the Moon.

Paul Money It’s slightly out of sync with its orbit and the orbital period. And yeah, so basically it does wobble a little bit. So ironically, you know, we say fifty percent of the moon is illuminated. Well, you actually get to see I think it’s about 58 percent of the moon technically. Over the course of the

Ezzy Pearson Just not all at the same time.

Paul Money No, exactly, it’s always 50 percent at any one moment, but we say slightly different. And that, you know, helps with things like observing Mare Orientale, which is right on the limb. And sometimes we see it better than others. Sometimes it’s virtually… Really difficult to see it. And other times you get a hint of this ring like structure. I mean, it would have been amazing if that had been facing us, I mean, that would have been something. But again, lunar limb occultation like this, the grazing occultation tell us a lot about these limb structures in the past. But now, of course, we’re spoiled, we’ve got orbiters and the potential return to the moon as well. So, you know, all this is moot point now, but they’re fascinating to watch. So hopefully we’ll get a chance to see that if it’s not cloudy, of course. Ahaha cloud there. Shall we rename this cloud diary? Because most of the events we talked about last month, although we had such a bad month, although I hardly saw any.

Ezzy Pearson Well, hopefully if September was bad, that means all of the cloud budget has been used up. So October will be lovely and clear because that’s how the weather works. Right?

Paul Money I’ll tell you what. Can I bank with the bank? You bank up there because I think that’s good. I think we’ll bank on that sort of thing, you know? So we’re absolutely clear. Yes, exactly. Cloud bank. So moving on, October normally has two showers, meteor showers that are worth observing. The Draconids, which are around about the 8th and the 9th and the Orionids, which are 21 – 22n sadly, the Orionids are spoilt. The Moon is full on the 20th. So he’s pretty much going to wash out the Orionids completely. But the good news is that on the 8th, the draconids is at its peak and the moon is a thin evening crescent. So it’s in the evening sky and set in fairly early on. And the reason why this is good is that the Draconids are actually what you call a circumpolar meteor shower. So they don’t set. The radiant itself, doesn’t set. So it’s always above the horizon. Naturally, early on it will be low down. It gets better during the course of the night, but we won’t have the moon to spoil it. So that’s good news. The only difference the only sad thing is that it is actually a low zenith hourly rate. And this is the theoretical rate for meteors if they are absolutely directly above you, perfectly crystal clear skies, et cetera, dark skies, no light pollution. This is what you’d see. They say five. And Pete Lawrence regularly reminds us that in actual fact, it’s usually about a quarter of that, what we actually see with the naked eye. So it sounds dismal. But the Draconids also occasionally have outbursts that difficult to predict. But in 2018, there was a really strong outburst. There was one hundred and fifty meteors an hour or so. So the thing is, you never know. This is why it’s always worth watching these minor showers, because you never know. You might be the one that discovers the new outburst, you know, or you may see an outburst take place. So, you know, it’s worth watching out during the course that 8th to the 9th that night. Keep an eye out.

Ezzy Pearson Because, even like something like the more. Prolific meteor showers like the Perseids or what have you. They’re only usually about 100 ZHR. So that’s a lot.

Paul Money 150 is amazing, you know, so we we don’t get many showers. I mean, there’s the Perseids, there’s the Geminids that you regularly go over a hundred per hour anyway. And the Leonids once every 33 years have an outburst. So we’re in between outbursts I’m afraid with the Leonids, we’ve got a bit of time yet to wait for that to happen again. But as I say these are… as they model meteor stream’s better and better, they’re beginning to find that there are actually little patches sort of of dust, perhaps slightly offset from the main shower sort of thing. And once you’ve seen them once, they can start modelling and predicting when they return. So they are getting better at these. So it’s worth and this is why we always say don’t observe just on the radiant night, you know, have a go a few nights before and after because you never know. I mean, you could be the discovery of a new radiant…uh, a new outburst, you know. So just imagine one of the Sky at Night, somebody reading the magazine say “It was because  of Sky at Night podcast, Ezzy and Paul, that I actually discovered a new outburst. You know, it’s not impossible. That’s that’s the beauty about this. It isn’t impossible.

Ezzy Pearson Also, if people are regular meteor shower observers and they fancy having a bit more of a challenge, you can also try and make notes and and actually record your observations. And that’s one of the ways that they’ve been tracking out where the meteor showers are. The sort of distribution of the meteor showers is because of amateur astronomers at home taking these notes. So if that sounds of interest to you, I suggest you look up the British Astronomical Association’s website and they’ve got lots of details about how to get in both there.

Paul Money That’s it, because this is one of the areas we can actually contribute as amateurs because so much is being taken over by professionals, which is understandable because they are the experts, but they can’t monitor meteor showers like we can. So we’ve got the resources. We’ve got the people around the world who can watch out for these things and take notes. And as long as it’s recorded accurately, then, you know, it can be really, really useful in modelling these streams. So that’s the Draconids, I say unfortunately, the Orionids are washed out by the Moon. You might get the odd one, because sometimes you do get a bright meteor associated with the shower. So, you know, it’s worth keeping an eye out then. But just remember, you won’t get anything like the number meteors. All the faint ones will be completely washed out by the Moon, which is a great shame. But, you know, there are some years when the Iranians are good, no Moon. And this is one of those years, unfortunately, we have to put up with that, isn’t it? And now the next night, 9 – 10 and we go back to the early evening a something reasonable, a reasonable time. And we’re talking about the evening Twilight. And, you know, our friend that’s been around for a very long time now, quite a few months. Good old, Venus, the goddess of love, is still hanging on in the evening sky. It will do because it’s one of those quirks of the ecliptic, the path it’s taken only ecliptic in that it’s actually keeping pace ahead of the Sun. So it’s not being beaten by the Sun. Mostly outer planets gradually sink into the twilight and disappear. Venus is one of those at the moment, its motion is keeping ahead of the encroachment of the sun so each staying visible. And so Venus is the bright evening star at the moment, 9 and 10th. On the 9th, you’ll be joined by the Crescent Moon. So I always love these. You got the crescent moon there, Selene. Hanging there gracefully next to the goddess of love as well. So all we can wax lyrical, can’t we? Really with these. But it is gorgeous to see them in the twilight sky hanging together just before they set. You want to be about half an hour, forty minutes max after sunset sort of thing before. Otherwise they’ll get too low. So the crescent of the moon on the ninth is to the upper right of Venus. Then on the next night Venus will have moved a little bit, but the moon will have moved quite a considerable amount to the left on the 10th will be well off to the left. But interestingly enough, it may give you a chance to see the star Antares. Now Antares  one of those stars that’s gradually sliding into the evening twilight sky and will be lost. And so it is getting difficult to see. But because of the position of Venus and the Moon on the 9th and the 10th the Moon and Venus will be either side of Antares, Antares is below them, in fact it’s nearly level with Venus. So I would use a pair of binoculars, find Venus first, make sure, of course, the sun set. You know, we always have to make sure that the sun is set with this I don’t want you to sweep up the sun, burn your eyeballs out. That would be terrible, wouldn’t it? But if you use Venus as a guide, then gently sweep to the left. You might pick up a lone star fainter star, but that will be Antares, say the Moon on the 10th, there’ll be Venus and the Moon and then Antares forming a very shallow triangle actually with them as well. So it might be your last chance to see Antaries. And of course, Antares is the heart of the scorpion, the blazing orange red star, the red supergiant star of Scorpius itself. So that’s in the evening sky, a nice evening one Ezzy. So we don’t have to get up. We’ve been working all diligently through the night, doing our reviews, observing, etc. and then we sleep in during the day because that’s what a lot of professional astronomers do. You know, they’re working through the night and they sleep during the day sort of thing. Gosh, it plays havoc with your biorhythms. I can tell you from my own experience.

Ezzy Pearson Really does, especially if you’ve already flown halfway around the world. So you’re jet lagged for two days, then you’re on the night shift for a week and then you’re back on holiday and then you’re back in the UK on UK time. Not that I speak from experience.

Paul Money I was just going to say, does this sound familiar? This sounds like practical experience you’ve gone through, which I think you have on

Ezzy Pearson Observing on Mauna Kea, which is, I think the twelve hour time difference to the UK and then constantly shifting. And by the end of that, when I came back, I have no idea where I was or what time it was or what was going on. My body was very confused.

Paul Money Shall I up you on that one? I’ll tell you, ah, if you want to do something like that, me and Pete Lawrence flew out with a certain company to see the eclipse in China. And that was quite something because we literally flew out, had the day literally half a day before the eclipse, saw the eclipse the next day and then the next day we had to fly back all the way from China. You know, it’d be nice to have had a bit of time to explore a bit more, but it was fascinating as such. But it takes it out of you, doesn’t it, sort of thing with all these travelling sort of thing. So back to the well, it’s not quite the evening sky, it’s late evening into the morning sky. October 10th to11th. Now Uranus will be at opposition next month, early on next month in actual fact. So it’s getting to the point where it’s visible almost all night. So he’s getting better placed to view. It’ll be a little bit better in November and December, I have to say, because then it moves into the evening sky properly. That’s more of a convenient time, isn’t it? But I always like it when these distant planets are close to stars that are the similar sort of brightness and they’re very close to them. We have an example with Uranus on October the 10th, 11th that night, you look through the night. So things are going to stay up if you want, so that our choice is yours. So Uranus is actually just above Omicron Arietis. Now, Uranus is magnitude 5.6 because it’s close to opposition. So it’s virtually at its brightest now, magnitude five point six. Some would cluster as naked. I usually they often say from a very dark sky, you can argue that magnitude six is the limit. You should be able to see something brighter than magnitude six. I have to say, I’ve struggled. I have seen Uranus with the naked eye before. I had to wear glasses. So I have managed it a few times sort of thing. But you need a blank area sky. Ideally, we no other stars similar to it. So this is a bit of an oddity because there is a star similar to it. It’s magnitude 5.7 Omicron Arietis, so it’s a tenth of a magnitude. So the question here and the challenge I think here is can you tell the difference between the two? Can you tell that difference in a tenth of magnitude? I used to be able to. And I’ll be honest, I don’t think I can do it anymore. I’m getting old, you know. But your eyes do age. And so you have to bear that in mind sort of thing. So, you know, I used to do tenths of magnitude. I used to do magnitude estimates and I could do it to a tenth of magnitude. I was quite proud of that. And, you know, it helps with observations like for the BAA. So this would be an interesting test because, as I say, Uranus will be directly above Omicron Arietus and it will be a tenth of a difference. So you should see I would use binoculars, but you should see two stars, equal brightness near enough. And the question will be, will you be able to tell which one is slightly fainter? And in theory, it should be the one below, it should be Omicron. That is actually very, very slightly fainter with any look, you might pick up a greenish tinge for Uranus as well, because that’s the classic thing. We’ve often called it the Green Planet and with good reason because a lot of methane in the atmosphere and that tends to give it this greenish colour. It is absorbs a lot of the wavelengths and the green is part of the railings that get reflected back to us. So I have to say it. I have suspected it in binoculars. I find it better in telescopes, the green colour. I do notice a greenish hue. It Is a bit like Neptune being blue – I see it more in a telescope, that I notice the hue. But I again, just see what you think, what not with binoculars or if you use a telescope and see whether a) you can detect that difference in magnitude and b) whether you can see the change in colour, the difference in colour between the two. Because I think colour is interesting. It’s very subjective. Everybody’s vision is totally different. So I can say something that looks a certain colour and they can look at it. It’s like now what he got on, what’s he been on sort of thing. But, you know, it’s just down to everybody’s eyes are subtly different. So that’s Uranus then, it’s not quite the last planet in the Solar System, but, you know, it is there and it’s quite distant. So, you know, another little goal, if you’ve never seen Uranus, he’s better when he’s near a star. Okeydokey, now we’re always looking for the Moon. I mean the Moon, I always think of in astronomy, if you can’t find the moon, take up another hobby. Unless it’s cloudy. I’ll get I’ll let you off if it’s cloudy.

Ezzy Pearson If it’s cloudy or there’s, like, a building in the way.

Paul Money Yeah, exactly. Sort of thing. But otherwise if you’ve got a clear sky and can’t find the moon. You need to take something else up as a hobby because you know, this is why I like to use the Moon as a guide to the other planets, because it does. This is why we say that about Venus in the early evening sky. And as we get to October the 13th through to the 15th, the Moon passes Saturn and Jupiter. Now, on the 13th, this is now in the evening sky because they are all past opposition sort of thing. So we’re looking at sort of like Saturn is to the upper left of the Moon on the 13th itself. Now, as it happens on the 13th, the Moon is at first quarter. So it looks like a half phase moon in actual fact. So you’ll see the half moon and then Saturn to its upper left. Now, the next night, the Moon will form a triangle with Saturn and Jupiter because interestingly enough, Saturn and Jupiter are gradually getting further apart. Now, we had the great conjunction last year, if you remember in December. It was absolutely fantastic. I mean, it was clear as high as it was clear. We had a special event and it was clear I was in shock. I think I think most of the country of the astronomers were actually in shock if they got clear skies. But at that time sort of thing, they were really close. But this gives us, again, another sense of the clockwork motion of the solar system, because Jupiter is pulling away. Jupiter is a closer planet to us. So it’s apparent motion in the sky is a lot faster. And so Saturn is on one side of Capricornus, Jupiter now is on the other side of Capricornus and gradually getting further and further away from Saturn. So so the moon on the 14th, well, actually, life forming a triangle would be lower than both planets sort of thing, but it’ll be in the centre near enough of Capricornus. And so you’ll get a nice conjunction there between Saturn, Jupiter and the Moon. And then to cap it off, Jupiter is actually sort of like quite close to two reasonably bright stars in Capricornus: Delta and  Gamma Capricorni. Now is directly above Gamma Capricorni, which makes it useful. It forms this triangle with them. But then on the fifteenth, it’s sort of like formed a diamond. So you’ve got Jupiter, the two stars, and then the moon below it as well. So you’ve got a nice diamond formation sort of thing, slightly distorted admittedly. It’s not a perfect diamond, but I always like these patterns in the sky sort of thing, you know, and because the Moon is moving and Jupiter is moving, you know, these patterns won’t repeat. You won’t get that diamond again. As far as I know, you won’t get it at all this year again. So grab it now while you actually can. So that’s the moon as a great guide for us.

Paul Money Now. We’ve had Venus in the evening sky, but we get Mercury, the innermost planet, but sadly, yes, you’ve guessed it, it’s not in the evening sky at al it’s in the morning sky. But this is the best morning aperition of the year. Mercury has two good apperitions per year, one in the evening sky, which is usually March or April time and one in the morning sky. And this is the moment when we start. Around about midmonth, October 15th it’ll be very low down. Now, the thing about the mercury apperition in the morning skies, it’s always fainter at the start of the aperaition and gets brighter through the middle and towards the end. Now, towards the end, it also suffers because it starts to get low in the sky and we have the atmospheric extinction taking place. But it’s actually in the morning sky and it rises quite quickly, gets higher and higher. And at one point when it reaches the greatest elongation west, which is October 25th, it’ll be 18 degrees away from the sun. But because the ecliptic is quite steep, that is good for us. So that means Murka gets quite high. In fact, it rises at its best two hours before the Sun. So it’s not often we can say that sort of thing because it’s usually quite, quite close to the sun. But it’s still in twilight. But it will be a good apparition, but it stretches into November as well. So, you know, if you’ve never seen the entire inferior planet, innermost planet of our solar system, Mercury, you like getting up in the morning. This is the apperition to get. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait for the evening and spring time next year, in fact, to see it. But I always say it’s nice to see Mercury because, I mean, you know, it’s it’s a they’re all friends, you know, the planets. And and I have to say, when they when they’ve disappeared into the Twilight I long to wait to see them come back, so it’s nice to get Mercury back into the sky and have a good operations where it isn’t clinging to the horizon like Venus is doing at the moment. At least Venus compensates by being bright sort of thing. So, yeah, in the morning twilight from october 15 onwards, I would say s you want to wait two or three days, probably October 20th onwards through to about the well, probably the first week of November. And that’s the best period for actually Mercury this particular time. But yeah, it is a nice morning apperition. And so if you like walking the dog, I mean, a lot of people do get up and early morning stretch sort of thing a stroll and make sure you look towards the east, south east, and you might see a little star there on the horizon sort of thing, you know, and if it isn’t a jet plane and a glint of light. But it will be mercury because mercury will be up in the morning sky. So, yes, it’ll be a welcome return. And I say this one’s a few weeks up. So technically, if you go from its first… If you do get it on the 15th, it’s visible until about November 14th. So you’ve nearly got potentially a month to observe it. But I say it’s round about towards the end of October 20th onwards through to the first week of November, but it’s actually at its best to observe. So there are so that’s that’s Mercury. So Mercury is is often considered because it’s in twilight. Oh, you don’t often see it, but actually it’s naked eye. You know, it is a naked eye planet. And when you spot it, you think, how could I have missed that, you know? So when you can see it, you know, it is quite bright. But on October 16th – this is a challenge. This is a challenge for you because it’s again, it’s one of those things. it’s sort of in the morning sky. Such a riot. Try for this. But you remember the Rosetta mission. Now, you wrote a lot about the Rosetta mission, didn’t you?

Ezzy Pearson I did.

Paul Money Didn’t you Ezzy. So, I mean, it was all the rage just a few years ago. Thing with little under Philae as well sort of thing where they went to the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.  I always never know whether I pronounce that right. But they are. That’s my go. Otherwise known as Comet 67 P, That’s a lot easier to say, isn’t it?  But the comet is returning now. It’s going to be faint. It’s about estimated to be magnitude ten. But the other thing that makes this interesting is it right next to Messier 35. The open cluster in Gemini, in fact it’s the feet of castro. So if you’re into faint comet sort of thing in conjunction with an interest in deep sky object, then this is the time to get it. And I’ve already got a few friends in September who have actually imaged the comet already, so I know imagers are going to be able to get that. Being magnitude 10, yes, it would be a reasonable sized telescope to pick it out, but it’ll be fascinating to see this distant interloper amongst the stars or close to the edge of Messiah 35 in Gemini as well. So it is a bit of a challenge, but we like to give a few challenges, though we shouldn’t make it too easy every month. Good grief.

Ezzy Pearson There’s a lot of astronomers, professional astronomers as well, who are very happy that the 67P is coming back in because it gets lets them have a second look at it.

Paul Money Exactly. You know, I mean, I don’t know whether there’s any chance of I don’t don’t think there’s any chance of communicating Rosetta. I think he’s dead, isn’t it, on the surface now of the comet? But but it would have been great if it got a little bleep because something’s acting up upon something sparking and it makes a connection. The little bleep saying, I’m here, I’m here.

Ezzy Pearson Unfortunately, it was landed on the surface of the comet. And spacecraft don’t tend to do too well when you leave them on a massive lump of ice in deep space for six and a half years.

Paul Money Yes, exactly. Throw it out dust and all sorts from it as well. Sure. Think is pretty well scoured by now. Well, sort thing.

Ezzy Pearson But if anybody at home is getting particularly interested about Churyumov-Gerasimenko and wants to learn a bit more about it, then I suggest looking out for the November issue when it comes back. Not not that I’m giving any spoilers here, but we might have something in there.

Ezzy Pearson I had a feeling there might be something, because it is a it is now a famous comet. To have a spacecraft orbit it and have a little lander as well. You know, that was quite an achievement. Well done ESA, for doing that. So we’re getting towards the end of the month now on October 21st, we actually have an interesting situation whereby, again, if you’ve not seen Uranus and it didn’t find Uranus before, when it was both Omicron Arietus, the Moon, which is full on the 20th the next morning. So it’s a pretty full moon, lies directly below Uranus. So that helps. And it’s between Uranus and Mu Ceti sort of thing, which always seems to be something about that star Mu Ceti, that I featured a lot in my own books. As such, when I’m doing it. I think it’s because Uranus is gradually coasting above that particular star. So it becomes quite well because we keep revisiting the same area of the sky. And it’s an easy way to home in on Uranus by using this naked eye star in the head of Cetus. On the 22nd the moon is then sort to the lower right of the Pleiades. So this is M45. I mean, you know, the moon light is bright, but you should see this faint little sparkly cluster of stars and of course binoculars will show it up really well. And I always like it because you have a sequence then on the 21st, next to Uranus, below Uranus on the 22nd, to the lower right of the Pleides. On the 23rd its sort of forming a very shallow triangle actually with Aldebaran that is the red eye, the bull sort of thing. And although I think it looks more orange personally, you know, but you’ve got the moon there, the Pleiades and Aldebaran. Of course Aldebaran is part of the Hyades. The cluster of stars there, which is named eye and looks more like a triangle. Of course, we know that Aldebaran is not actually a true memeber, it’s half the distance, in fact. So it’s not a true member at all. And then after that, the next night, for an added… I mean, it’s up to you, but the moon forms a bit of a triangle with the two horns of the bull, Alnath and Zeta Tauri sort of thing. So it’s a nice little sequence where you can follow the moon if you get clear nights on successive nights. Haha I know, I know. Get cloudwatch UK out again. Now on the 28th, we have a bit of a jump because there isn’t that many events after that. But on the twenty eight I was like lineups I don’t know about you, but when we get sort of like a line up of celestial objects and in this particular case the moon again is in the morning sky and as it happens, getting close to last quarter and it’s actually directly below and then in line up with Castor and Pollux and Gemini and their two bright stars, the twins of Gemini itself. So you really want to be looking from midnight on the 20th. So that’s the night of the twenty seventh into the twenty eight to actually see that. And it will form a line up sort of thing. It also forms a bit of a sort of like diamond because you’ve actually got Kappa and Pollocks, you’ve got the Moon. I forget the other star now and I think it’s Tau or Eta Geminorum. but so you know I always forget that middle one because we hardly ever discuss it. It’s one of those stars whereby you point out people say, is that one interesting. It’s like no. I mean you have to be honest.

Ezzy Pearson All stars are interesting.

Paul Money And I know it’s spectroscopically that would be interesting but visually.

Ezzy Pearson Some are more interesting than others.

Paul Money It’s a dot. Let’s face it, their dots. Exactly when that doubles or triples that, they get interesting really, or variables as such. But now it’s always nice to watch this and as I say it will be a line up with Castor and Pollux as well. So we are getting towards the end of the month, but we started the month with Eta Leonis and the actual occultation. Now, if an event occurs at the beginning of the month because of the lunar month, because the time it takes the Moon to go around the Earth and come back to the same place, that is where we get month from, of course. And so you find that if they’re on the 1st, 2nd or 3rd, there’s a good chance on the 29th, 30th and 31st of a month, they’ll be in a similar area and so on the 30th to the 31st we actually have the thick crescent moon to the right of Eta this time to the right actually of the sickle of Leo and to the right, actually upper right of Regulus. And then on the 31st is almost level with Reguls on the other side, on the left hand side to finish the month off. So it’s always interesting when you get them at the beginning of the month, at the end of the month, you feel like you’re getting two bites at the cherry. But it’s not this time. We don’t get an occultation though. If you get an occultation one time, you won’t by definition get an occultation the next time. The orbital period of the moon just doesn’t work like that as such. But I always thought, nah, it’s nice when it starts and ends with the same patch of sky. So we feel that we’ve done a complete circuit, aren’t we? But would you believe we have. So there we are. That’s the main event really for the actual month itself. A lot to look out for.

Ezzy Pearson So there we have it, there’s lots going on this month, as you just said, on the 3rd October, we have the Moon, occulting the star Eta. If you’re in the southern part of the U.K., for those in the north, you might be able to see it blinking in and out amongst the mountains and hills and valleys of the moon. Then on the 8th, we have the Draconids meteor shower, which will definitely be worth a look. Over the following weeks there’s going to be appearances from a whole bevy of planets from Venus and Uranus, Jupiter, Saturn, even Mercury and Mars as well. So that’s. That’s pretty much all of them, apart from Neptune, isn’t it?

Paul Money And Neptune was the opposition last month, so we only missed out because it got a lot of attention last month as such. But it’s visible in Aquarius. So, you know, it’s just harder with the moon near the moon washes it out.


Ezzy Pearson So if you fancy having a planetary month, October seems like a good one. You can get them all in. And you might also be able to get a glimpse of the comet 67P/Churyumov Gerasimenko on the 16th October, which will be passing close by to M35 as it makes its way towards perihelion. Then on the 22nd, you unfortunately won’t be able to see the Orion, its meteor shower too well, you might be able to see one or two, but you could get to see the Pleiades and the Moon passing by the Pleiades the 22nd.  Then on the twenty eighth, we have a nice, stellar line-up as the moon makes a line with Castor and Pollux. So whatever you want to get a look at, whether it’s its stars or solar system objects, there’s loads to see in the night sky this month. If you want to find out even more spectacular satellites that will be gracing the night sky this month, then be sure to pick up a copy of BBC Sky at Night magazine. We have a 16 page Pull-Out Sky guide with a full overview of everything that’s worth looking up for in October 2021. Whether you like to look at the moon, the planets or the deep sky, whether you use binoculars, telescopes or neither, our guide has got you covered with detailed star charts to help you track your way across the night sky. So thank you very much, Paul, for telling us all about that. So hopefully some of you listening at home will be able to get out there and observe something great this month. So from all of us here at BBC Sky Night magazine, goodbye