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October provides us nice viewing opportunities for many of our Solar System planets in the night sky. The heavyweight of our starry night sky, Jupiter, just reached its closest point to us in 59 years in September. But even now, it provides magnificent views with just binoculars. Saturn is also visible in the night sky, often near the moon making it easy to find. October 2022 also marks the once-in-two-years Mars retrograde — where it appears to change its course in the night sky.
There are many high-magnitude stars that are visible in the early nights and mornings throughout October such as Castor, Pollux, Betelgeuse, Rigel and Aldebaran. This month’s full moon is the Hunter’s Moon. You can watch it on the night of October 9th. Finally, don’t miss the famous Orionids meteor shower that peaks around October 20th this year.
Table of Contents
- Stargazing In October 2022: Brilliant Visible Planets & Otherworldly Spooky Stars
- What Planets Are Visible In The Night Sky This October
- Jupiter And Saturn Throughout The Night
- Hunter’s Moon (October 9th Full Moon) Between Uranus & Jupiter
- Mars Is Visible And In Retrograde Above Aldebaran and Betelgeuse In October 2022
- Orionids Meteor Shower Peaks October 20th After Midnight
- Castor & Pollux In Gemini Visible Near The Moon Mid-October Mornings
- Planets Visible Tonight In North America (Approximate Times)
- What Planets Are Visible (Evenings/Nights)
- What Planets Are Visible (Mornings)
- Bonus: Viewing Jupiter’s Four Large Galilean Moons
- Bottom Line On What Planets & Stars Are Visible In The October 2022 Night Sky
Stargazing In October 2022: Brilliant Visible Planets & Otherworldly Spooky Stars
The spooky October night sky has many easy sightings to take advantage of. Jupiter is still close to opposition and stays closer to us than it has been in 59 years. Alongside Jupiter, Saturn is also nicely visible. The constellations of Capricornus, Orion and Gemini make their appearances in time for Halloween. The main stars that are visible during October nights are Rigel, Betelgeuse, Aldebaran, and the Gemini twins — Castor and Pollux. Plus, we get to see meteors from Orion in late October.
What Planets Are Visible In The Night Sky This October
This month most of the visible planets from Earth come into our night or morning skies. Jupiter and Saturn provide easy viewing most anytime of the night. Mars is best viewed in the early morning. Mercury and Venus become visible just before dawn.
In addition to our faithful planets, the autumnal stars also begin to take center stage in the night sky. And don’t forget to watch the Orionids meteor shower that comes our way later in October.
Jupiter And Saturn Throughout The Night
The two largest planets in our Solar System, gas giants Jupiter and Saturn rise into prominence each night. Binoculars bring them visually closer in majesty but a telescope view of them will take your breath away.
Jupiter In Opposition And Closest To Earth In 59 Years
Jupiter is easy to find a few hours after sunset throughout October. From then on, it can be viewed right to dawn. It is still making its closest approach to us for about 59 years. Enjoy it with binoculars and also get a view of its four Galilean moons.
Saturn Near The Moon In Capricornus Early October
In early October, the waxing gibbous moon and Saturn appear in the constellation Capricornus (horned sea-goat) during the early evening hours. Look southeast after sunset with binoculars and also catch Jupiter (and its moons) which is making a decade-long close approach to Earth this autumn.
Hunter’s Moon (October 9th Full Moon) Between Uranus & Jupiter
The full Hunter’s Moon arrives on October 9th in 2022. The full moon after the Harvest Moon is traditionally called a Hunter’s moon. Catch a glimpse of this full moon a few hours after sunset looking east. The bright object to the west of the Hunter’s Moon is the planet Jupiter. On the other side of the moon is Uranus. But you will need optical aid to see this distant planet.
Mars Is Visible And In Retrograde Above Aldebaran and Betelgeuse In October 2022
If you follow the movement of Mars in the night sky, October 2022 is when it starts to retrograde. This is when it appears to stop an eastward movement in the sky at the end of October. It then turns back west for a few months till January 2023 before resuming a normal easterly direction relative to the stars.
This is just an illusion to us observers on Earth because we rotate around the Sun on a faster inner orbit compared to Mars. You can see exactly how the 2022 Mars retrograde plays out in this NASA video.
While picking out Mars in the night, you can easily find two other interesting stars of the October night sky — Aldebaran and Betelgeuse. These hang just below Mars in late October when viewed looking southeast early morning before dawn.
Aldebaran is a red giant only 65 light years from us and is the brightest star in Taurus. Its radius is 44 times our own sun. It is therefore, 400 times more luminous making it about the sixteenth brightest star in our night skies. Betelgeuse is a red super giant that is part of the constellation Orion. Easy to spot as it is the tenth-brightest star in the sky and the second brightest in Orion after Rigel. Betelgeuse has a very large diameter. If placed where our Sun is, its surface would extend past the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars.
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Orionids Meteor Shower Peaks October 20th After Midnight
Talking about stars such as Betelgeuse and Rigel in Orion is a good point to remind ourselves of the spectacular Orionids meteor shower that peaks this year on October 20th. Left over dust and ice from previous passes of Haley’s Comet give us these abundant meteors.
How To Find The Orionid Meteor Shower
Best viewing is after midnight. Finding the radiant (point they appear to come from) is easy. After midnight, look up in the southeast sky just to the right of Orion’s raised arm (see the yellow arrow in the chart above). While it peaks on October 20th, the meteor shower lasts about a week so you can still catch them a few days around this date.
While you are waiting to see the Orionids shooting stars, you can see several of the brightest stars in the night sky in the general vicinity of the radiant such as Castor, Pollux, Procyon and Sirius. And also, the planet Mars which is nearing its retrograde point later in October as we discussed earlier.
Castor & Pollux In Gemini Visible Near The Moon Mid-October Mornings
Use the waning crescent moon to find the Gemini twins — Castor and Pollux — on the morning of October 18th. Procyon is also visible nearby and is the eight brightest star in our night sky. It appears this bright to us because it is only 11.5 light years away. With Sirius and Betelgeuse, it forms the third vertex of the Winter Triangle asterism. So, watch for it as we move through the winter months.
Planets Visible Tonight In North America (Approximate Times)
|Planetary Data for today|
What Planets Are Visible (Evenings/Nights)
On October evenings and nights, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars are visible in the night sky.
Saturn is already high in the sky after sunset in the Capricornus constellation and it sets at about 2 am.
Jupiter is the brightest of the stars this October and is visible throughout the night. It rises from the east after sunset.
Mars rises after 10 pm and can be seen right till early morning.
What Planets Are Visible (Mornings)
Mercury can be found just before dawn. Look east to find this bright planet near where the sun is about to rise.
Jupiter is still near opposition and thus, stays up the whole night. In the morning you need to look west to find this bright planet of the night sky.
Mars can be found high in the southeast sky in the mornings. Look just above the two constellations of Gemini and Orion. It is also going to reverse its nightly motion relative to the stars. Watch for more on this as fall turns to winter.
Bonus: Viewing Jupiter’s Four Large Galilean Moons
With most binoculars, you can also see Jupiter’s four large Galilean moons — Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. Unless any of them are directly behind the planet. Use this online tool to get real-time tracking information of Jupiter’s moons. This way you will be able to know exactly which of the moons you are seeing with your binoculars.
Beware. If you’ve not seen Jupiter’s moons with a pair of binoculars before, prepare to be truly amazed. And to feel an urge to take up stargazing as a full-blown hobby in the near future.
Bottom Line On What Planets & Stars Are Visible In The October 2022 Night Sky
October nights provide excellent views of several planets that are visible in our Solar System. The weather is crisp, but an earlier dusk gives you easy opportunities to spot some of our brightest stars. See our charts above that make it easy to find these celestial beauties in your night sky. We also learned about the unusual Mars retrograde that happens about every two years and puzzled early astronomers.
We also learned how to catch the famous Orionids meteor shower that peaks around October 20th when our Earth passes through the dust and ice left behind by Haley’s Comet. And using binoculars to observe Jupiter’s Galilean moons while the planet makes a close swing past Earth. Happy stargazing!
By Master Influencer Magazine Science & Technology Staff
Star charts and astronomical information are based on software estimated views for mid-northern latitude locations such as the United States of America, Canada and Europe.
Published 9:00 PM EDT, Wed October 05, 2022
Jupiter Opposition; Stargazing; Night Sky Watching; Binoculars; Orionids Meteor Shower; Betelgeuse; Aldebaran; Castor; Pollux; Mars; Saturn; Uranus; Retrograde; Hunter’s Moon
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