October Skies – by Dick Cookman

Highlights:  Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Planet Plotting, October Moon 

Focus Constellations: Ursa Minor, Draco, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Perseus, Camelopardalis, Ursa Major, Hercules, Lyra, Cygnus, Pegasus, Andromeda, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Auriga

  • Comet Journals

Comet C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS) is in southern hemisphere skies below the claws of Scorpius in October.

It was closest to Earth at 168 million miles on July 14, 2022 and will reach perihelion at 8th magnitude on December 19, 2022. It will return to northern skies next autumn. Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is between Hercules and Bootes. Although quite dim at 11th magnitude, it may reach naked eye visibility as a Christmas comet and achieve maximum brilliance when at perihelion on January 13 or when it is closest to Earth on February 2.

  • Mars Landers-

The Perseverance science team published their first peer-reviewed paper on Moxie, detailing the results of the seven oxygen generation runs completed in the rover’s first year on Mars. Perseverance is continuing its examination of the foot of the 3.5 billion year old delta in Jezero Crater where it has already collected four samples for eventual return to Earth. These samples include including sandstone and mudstone with organic molecules and sulfate minerals. The geologic diversity of these samples already carried in the rover is so good that the rover team is looking into depositing select tubes containing the samples near the base of the delta for future retrieval. After depositing the cache in two months, the rover will continue its delta explorations.

Insight lander has detected seismic waves from four space rocks that crashed on Mars in 2020 and 2021. Not only do these represent the first impacts detected by the spacecraft’s seismometer since InSight touched down on the Red Planet in 2018, it also marks the first time seismic and acoustic waves from an impact have been detected on Mars. Combined with the 1300 marsquake seismic waves so far detected, these waves provided additional information about the nature of the rocks and layering inside of Mars.

After some issues with the robotic arm early in the month, Curiosity continued climbing through the difficult terrain of Mt. Sharp in mid-September. The rover is currently surrounded by buttes separated by a mix of large rocks and sand making for very difficult navigation as it moves between sites where it utilizes its multiple instruments for observation while teetering at odd angles due to rocks under the wheels. September closed with the rover approaching Canaima, its next drilling target.

  • Meteor Showers

The Draconid (10/8), Taurid (10/10). Delta Aurigid (10/11), Epsilon Geminid (10/18), Orionid (10/21), and Leo Minored (10/24) meteor showers are all minor northern hemisphere showers except for the Draconids and Orionids. The former contends with the glare of the waxing gibbous Moon and the latter will be best observed before dawn, when the waning crescent Moon is rising and Orion is in the southwestern sky.

October 8: Draconids. Active October 6 – 10, Radiant 17h28m +54°, ZHR 20, 20km/sec. Waxing Gibbous Moon. Progenitor: Comet 1P/Giacobini-Zinner. 

October 21: Orionids. Active October 2 – November 7, Radiant 6h20m +16°, ZHR 25, 66km/sec. Waning Crescent Moon. Progenitor: Comet 1P/Halley.

    • Planet Plottings

 Jupiter (-2.8 to -2.7) in Pisces and Neptune (+7.8) in Aquarius are in the eastern sky after sunset in October. Saturn (+0.5 to +0.7) is higher in the southeast in Capricornus. Uranus (5.6) rises at 8:30PM EDT in Aries in early October and at 6:30PM EDT on the 31st. Mars (-0.6 to -1.2) rises about 10:30PM in Taurus on the 1st and 9:00PM EDT on the 31st. Mercury (+1.4 to -1.1) and Venus (-3.8) are morning planets in Virgo. The former passed through inferior solar conjunction in late September and the latter reaches superior conjunction on the 22nd. Venus will not be visible this month but Mercury puts on quite a show during October’s first two weeks. It rises just before the Sun on the 1st and almost an hour before sunrise after the 1st week. It reaches greatest eastern elongation (18 degrees) on the 8th and is brightest on the 16th after which it rapidly falls into the glow of sunrise.




Planet Passages




Leo, Virgo


New Moon

6:49AM EDT




+1.4 to -1.1

Max. East Elongation

5:00PM EDT





Superior Conjunction

5:00PM EDT




-0.6 to -1.2



-2.8 to -2.7



+0.5 to +0.7





Pisces, Aquarius


    • October Moon

October’s New Moon in Virgo on the 24th at 6:49AM EDT is the start of Lunation 1235 ending 29.54 days later with that of November in Scorpius on the 23rd at 5:57 EDT. The New Moon of October will partially eclipse the Sun in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Western Asia. October’s Full Moon is in Pisces on the 9th at 5:59AM EDT. It can be the “Harvest Moon” if it occurs closer to the Fall Equinox than that of September which was the “Harvest Moon” this year. It was called the “Blood Moon” in Medieval England and for Celts it was the “Harvest Moon”. In China, it is the “Kindly Moon” and Colonial Americans called it “Hunter’s Moon”. Anishnaabe (Odawa and Ojibwe) first people recognize the 10th Moon as “Binaakwe-giizis” (Falling Leaves Moon), and the folks at Earth Haven Farm in Ontario say that the cultural teaching explaining the cycle of life and nature of the 10th Grandmother Moon of Creation is that: “this is a time when Mother Earth is honored with the grandest of colors. As all of Creation makes their offerings to her, we become aware of all the miracles of Creation before us and our spiritual energies are once again awakened.”
Lunar Perigee distance (minimum lunar distance) is 229,488 mi. (57.90 Earth radiil) on the 4th at 12:34PM EDT. Lunar Apogee (maximum lunar distance) in October is on the 17th at 6:20AM EDT, when the Moon will be at a distance of 251,238 mi. (63.79 Earth radii). Another Lunar Perigee occurs at a distance of 228,845mi. (57.74 Earth radiil) on the 29th at 10:36AM EDT.
The waxing gibbous Moon appears to pass Saturn on the 5th, Neptune on the 7th, and Jupiter on the 8th. The waning gibbous Moon passes Uranus on the 12th and Mars on the 15th. The waxing crescent passes Mercury and Venus on the 24th and 25th respectively. The passages of Uranus and Mercury are near occultations.




Moon Passages

Moon Phase

Moon Age

Sun Virgo


6:49AM EDT, 10/25 New     0.0 Days
Mercury Virgo


0.39°NE, 1:00PM EDT, 10/24 Waning Crescent 29.80 Days
Venus Virgo


0.02°ESE, 9:00AM EDT, 10/25 Waxing Crescent   0.09 Days
Mars Taurus


4.0°N, 1:00AM EDT, 10/15 Waning Gibbous 19.30 Days
Jupiter Pisces


2.0°S, 2:00PM EDT, 10/8 Waxing Gibbous 12.84 Days
Saturn Capricornus


4.0°S, Noon EDT, 10/5 Waxing Gibbous   9.75 Days
Uranus Aries


0.8°N, 3:00AM EDT, 10/12 Waning Gibbous 16.38 Days
Neptune Aquarius


3.0° S, 11:00PM EDT, 10/7 Waxing Gibbous 12.21 Days