The October 2019 Night Sky

Welcome to the October night sky. During the cool and clear autumn nights, we will lose sight of the major planets as they dip below the western horizon at nightfall. To make up for this lack of bright planets in October, we can look over towards north-east, when the sky is fully dark, to see the Pleiades star-cluster rising from the horizon.

This small group of six or seven bright stars has great mythological importance, as its appearance at this time of the year represented for ancient peoples the world’s descent into darkness for the six months of northern hemisphere winter. Many festivals celebrate this time of the year with the Pagan Celtic Festival of Samhain morphing into the modern Festival of Halloween at the end of October.

There are not many noticeable meteor showers in October, but the Orionids shower with the peak on the 21st is the best. The Orionids are associated with Comet Halley. The Draconid shower on the night of the 9th is associated with Comet Giacobini Zinner but the nearly full Moon will hamper observation.

Sunday, October 27 is the official end of summertime and the clocks all over Europe go back one hour. The EU has mandated that in 2021 this twice-yearly clock change will cease, and the countries in central Europe will stay on standard, or Brussel’s time, permanently from the last Sunday of October 2021. Countries in western Europe have the option to keep year-long permanent one hour fast “summertime” from the last Sunday in March 2021. Whether the UK will have to obey this new EU law or be free to choose its own time is unknown at present.

The Moon is at first quarter on the 5th, full on the 13th, last quarter on the 21st and new on October 28.

To see the October Sky Map click on the pdf link below


By Clive Jackson
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Clive Jackson is the Director of the Camera Obscura (next to the Castle in Tavira), specialising in education and public outreach.
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