Monthly Skywatchers' Page

For London and the UK

Sun And Nine Planets
The Sun and eight major planets (plus KBO Pluto) to scale. Earth is third planet from the left.


Introduction

The location of the stars and constellations can be learnt throughout a single year from books, mobile phone applications or planetarium software. Each month of the year, the same stars are visible from a given location. Different stars and constellations are visible as the year progresses. For example, in London, the constellation of Orion is always visible in the evenings of winter months of January and February. Scorpius is visible in the summer months of June and July around midnight.

The planets resemble stars except that, generally, they do not twinkle. Unlike the stars whose patterns are fixed, planets wander through the sky changing their positions amongst the starry background. This means that their periods of visibility change as the relative position of the Earth, Sun and planet vary. In one year Mars may be visible in August at midnight. In another year it may be behind the Sun and invisible from Earth during August.

This page gives the details of visibility for the five naked eye planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. It also gives information about comets, meteor showers and non-regular phenomena like eclipses, transits and occultations.

The Observers' Glossary explains the terms used. Alternatively run the mouse cursor over terms in maroon.


The descriptions below are for viewers in the Northern Hemisphere, especially London and the United Kingdom.
The planetary information is valid for any location at the same or similar Latitude (51.5°N).
Note that a degree in the sky is twice the apparent diameter of the Moon.

All times on this page are London (UK) times. This is normally GMT (Greenwich Mean Time also known as Universal Time).
In the United Kingdom, the clocks go forward by one hour for British Summer Time (BST) between mid March and late October.
A 24 hour clock is used so that 7pm is written 19:00.


October 2018

Mercury

Mercury

Mercury is too close to the Sun to be visible this month.

Venus

Venus

Venus is also too close to the Sun passing through inferior conjunction on 26th.

Mars

Mars

Mars continues as a bright evening object shining with its distinctive red colour low in the South after it gets dark. The planet continues fading and is now less bright that the brightest star, Sirius. The planet spends the month in Capricornus and is now moving Northwards, getting higher in the sky as the month progresses.

The Moon will be close to the planet on 18th.

By the end of the month, Mars will be setting at around 10:30pm.

Jupiter

Jupiter

Jupiter is now too close to the Sun and will not be visible this month.

Saturn

Saturn

Saturn is an evening object in Sagittarius to the right of the brighter Mars. Look for the planet close to the Moon on 14th.

By the end of the month, Saturn will be setting in the South West by 7pm.

Sun

The Sun

October is very noticeable for the onset of the early evenings. There are three reasons for this:

Firstly, there is the loss of nearly two hours of daylight as the length of day decreases from 11 hours 37 minutes to 9 hours 43 minutes.

Secondly, the clocks go back by one hour on the morning of 28th. This moves the time of sunrise, midday and sunset back by an hour. The time of sunset on 27th is 17:43. On the 28th sunset is at 16:41.

Thirdly, by the end of the month, the time of midday is at 11:44. This is well before 12:00 (clock noon). This has the effect of shunting what little daylight there is into the morning, making the evenings darker than the mornings.

For example, on 31st, sunrise is at 6:52am. This gives 5 hours and 8 minutes of daylight before 12:00. The time of sunset is 4:35pm. This gives just 4 hours 35 minutes of daylight after 12:00. There is more than a half an hour more of the daylight before 12:00.

The time of midday begins the month at 12:50 (remember the clocks are forward on 1 October) but continues to move earlier during October. By the 27th the time of midday will be at 12:44. This then moves back one hour with the clocks and ends the month at 11:44.

The Sun remains in the large constellation of Virgo until the final day of the month.

Note that the Zodiac dates do not tie in with astrology as astrologers are using dates from two thousand years ago.

Date Sunrise Midday Sunset Length of Day Sun's Noon Altitude Notes
01-Oct
07:00
12:50
18:38
11h 37m
35.2°
02-Oct
07:02
12:49
18:36
11h 33m
34.9°
Morning Half Moon
03-Oct
07:04
12:49
18:33
11h 29m
34.5°
04-Oct
07:05
12:49
18:31
11h 25m
34.1°
05-Oct
07:07
12:48
18:29
11h 21m
33.7°
06-Oct
07:09
12:48
18:27
11h 18m
33.3°
07-Oct
07:10
12:48
18:24
11h 14m
32.9°
08-Oct
07:12
12:48
18:22
11h 10m
32.6°
09-Oct
07:14
12:47
18:20
11h 06m
32.2°
New Moon at 03:47 (Virgo)
10-Oct
07:15
12:47
18:18
11h 02m
31.8°
11-Oct
07:17
12:47
18:16
10h 58m
31.4°
12-Oct
07:19
12:46
18:13
10h 54m
31.0°
13-Oct
07:20
12:46
18:11
10h 50m
30.7°
14-Oct
07:22
12:46
18:09
10h 47m
30.3°
Moon close to Saturn
15-Oct
07:24
12:46
18:07
10h 43m
29.9°
16-Oct
07:25
12:46
18:05
10h 39m
29.6°
Evening Half Moon
17-Oct
07:27
12:45
18:03
10h 35m
29.2°
18-Oct
07:29
12:45
18:01
10h 31m
28.8°
Moon close to Mars
19-Oct
07:31
12:45
17:59
10h 27m
28.5°
20-Oct
07:32
12:45
17:56
10h 24m
28.1°
21-Oct
07:34
12:45
17:54
10h 20m
27.8°
22-Oct
07:36
12:44
17:52
10h 16m
27.4°
Earliest time of midday
23-Oct
07:38
12:44
17:50
10h 12m
27.0°
24-Oct
07:39
12:44
17:48
10h 09m
26.7°
Full Moon at 16:45 (Pisces)
25-Oct
07:41
12:44
17:46
10h 05m
26.4°
26-Oct
07:43
12:44
17:44
10h 01m
26.0°
27-Oct
07:44
12:44
17:43
09h 58m
25.7°
Clocks go BACK by ONE hour at 02:00
28-Oct
06:46
11:44
16:41
09h 54m
25.3°
29-Oct
06:48
11:44
16:39
09h 50m
25.0°
30-Oct
06:50
11:44
16:37
09h 47m
24.7°
31-Oct
06:52
11:44
16:35
09h 43m
24.4°
Morning Half Moon

Moon

The Moon

The Moon will be close to Saturn on 14th.

The Moon will be close to Mars on 18th.


It is easy to depend on astronomy or CMMS software to perform daily computational activities and to keep track of data. Astronomy enthusiasts can choose from a wide variety of software options, while facility managers may have fewer options if they require CMMS software for their business.


Next Month

Mars and Saturn in the evening. Venus in the morning.


All times on this page are London (UK) times.

Sources: Astronomy Now magazine, Cybersky, Starry Night Pro, USA Naval Observatory and UK Nautical Almanac Office.

© 2018 KryssTal
All sky images by Starry Night Pro Plus 6
Eclipse predictions (maps) courtesy of Fred Espenak, NASA's GSFC


Books From Amazon.co.uk


Observers' Glossary

An explanation of the terms used by sky observers. Includes descriptions of how the objects of the solar system behave in the sky as seen from Earth (especially the Northern Hemisphere high latitudes).


KryssTal Related Pages

Tables and data about the Sun, Earth, Moon, planets, asteroids and comets. All terms used are explained.

An account of how various properties of stars can be measured by studying starlight. Includes brightness, distance, luminosity, temperature, mass, radius, density and an introduction to the H-R Diagram.

A table containing a list of the 20 brightest stars in the Earth's sky. Explanations of all the associated terms like magnitude, spectral type and radial velocity.

A detailed account about eclipses, transits and occultations. These are irregular phenomena that can be observed in the sky. Includes eclipse trips around the world with photos and well as photos of recent transists of Mercury and Venus.

An easy-to-understand scaling of the Universe in space. Distances in space are represented by the time light takes to travel there.

An easy-to-understand scaling of the Universe in time. The chronology of the Universe is compared to a real year.

How humanity came from believing Creation Myths to postulating the Inflationary Big Bang Theory. The key stages in our understanding of our place in the cosmos and the people who broadened our understanding.

What do we mean by the words day, week, month, year? Who invented our calendar? When did the third millennium begin? The relation between time and astronomy.

The force that moves apples and planets. A short introduction to the ideas of Kepler and Newton that culminated with the theory of Universal Gravitation.

A look at the mathematics of a sphere with a section on sundials and the equation of time.


External Skywatching Links

These links will open in a separate window

StarDate Online
An excellent online skywatchers' magazine featuring detailed monthly information about astronomical events.

Astronomy Picture of the Day
A different image each day with an extensive archive and explanations.

Society for Popular Astronomy
Monthly planet and star gazing details with maps for young people.

Telescope House
A London based source of astronomical equipment, telescopes, software, maps and books.

Southern Sky Watch
Sky watchers information for the southern hemisphere.

Starry Night Pro
Superb planetarium software. Simulate the sky from anywhere on the Earth and any time.