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What’s in the Sky This Month: October 2021

Spooky season is finally upon us, and the leaves aren’t the only things changing. This October will bring some truly incredible viewing opportunities, including meteor showers, autumnal constellations, planets, star clusters, and more! Read on to learn about what’s up in the cosmos this month, and don’t forget to tune into the latest installment of our monthly YouTube series, Mars Hill Almanac.

Planets

This month, Jupiter and Saturn will be in the constellation Capricornus. Both planets will be visible in the early evening throughout the month, but will set earlier each night. 

Venus will appear in the very early evening sky, but it will set not long after the Sun. 

Uranus and Neptune will be visible through a telescope almost all night throughout the month. Uranus will be in the constellation Aries, and Neptune will be in Aquarius. 

Meteor Showers

Early October has several relatively weak meteor showers. 

The Camelopardalids will peak the evening of October 5th, the Draconids will peak the evening of October 8th, and the Southern Taurids will peak the evening of October 10th. 

Each of these are expected to produce around 5 shooting stars per hour. 

Constellations

Cassiopeia makes a distinctive “W” shape towards the northeast, which opens up nearly directly towards Polaris, the North Star. Leading Cassiopeia in her journey around Polaris is her husband, Cepheus, the King. 

Two of Cassiopeia’s stars, Navi and Shedar, point directly to the constellation Pegasus, the Winged Horse. Navi and Ruchbar point directly to the constellation of Perseus, the Hero. Following Pegasus is Andromeda. 

There aren’t many bright stars in the southern autumn sky, especially from northern latitudes, but one notable exception is Fomalhaut, sometimes known as the lonely star. It’s in the otherwise very faint constellation of Pisces Austrinus, the Southern Fish.