October is going to be astronomical. We say this because according to NASA, there are several major developments happening in space — Jupiter and Saturn will be visible in the night sky throughout this month, Mars is set to reverse its course through the night sky and there will be meteors from the Orion constellation. This month will be a treat for the stargazers.
Here’s more about the space events taking place this month and how you can make the most of them:
Jupiter and Saturn
The two gas giants will be visible in the night sky throughout October. As per NASA, these planets will be seen in the southeast early in the evening. It will move slowly westward with the stars over the course of the night. They form a triangle with bright star Fomalhaut. The space agency further suggests, “When observing this trio, note how the planets shine with a steady light, while the star twinkles. This can be an easy way to know if what you’re looking at is a planet or a star.”
Reverse motion of Mars
NASA explains that the Red Planet has been steadily working its way toward the east all year like it usually does, relative to the background stars. “But at the end of October, Mars halts this apparent motion, and then appears to reverse course. Over the next three months, from November to late January, Mars moves toward the west each night,” it said. Towards January end, it reverses direction again, and continues its eastward journey, the space agency says.
The Orionid meteor shower is active throughout October and November, and peaks on the night of October 20, according to NASA. “It’s a moderate shower, usually producing 10-20 meteors per hour at its peak, under clear, dark skies. This year, the Moon will be about 20% full on the peak nights,” it says, adding, “So it will interfere a bit when it rises a couple of hours before dawn, but shouldn’t totally spoil the viewing.”