October 2022

The moon is up in the evening approaching first quarter at October’s start. Southern lunistice will be on the 2nd at 27.4° from the equator. The first quarter phase will be the next day. Then on the 4th, the moon’s at perigee 369,400 km from Earth. The thickening gibbous disk passes by Saturn on the 5th. The ringed planet remains firmly in the eastern part of Capricornus. An even thicker gibbous lunar disk passes by Jupiter on the 8th.

Full moon occurs on the 9th. The moon rises above Cetus the sea monster that evening. The moon is in the same part of the sky as Uranus on the 11th. It’s near the Pleiades on the 12th. Approaching last quarter and rising later in the evening, the moon is near Mars on the 14th and 15th. Northern lunistice is on the 16th at 27.5°. The last quarter moon is firmly planted in Gemini on the morning of the 17th. It’s close to Pollux. And apogee occurs the same day at 404,200 kilometers.

See a thinning crescent moon near Regulus on the morning of the 20th. That might have to suffice as a substitute for a moon-Venus conjunction this month. Or perhaps the sight of a very thin crescent near Mercury on the morning of the 24th will do. Venus is just too close to the sun for a view of it. For people who live close to the west coast of Canada and the U.S., the moon will occult Mercury. The beginning of the event is in the approaching sunrise glare, so it may take binoculars to see. The end of the occultation happens after sunrise.

New moon is on the 25th. It brings a partial solar eclipse for observers in most of Europe, northeast Africa, and west Asia. Never look directly at the sun during a partial eclipse, even if it doesn’t hurt your eyes. Use only a filter that is made specifically for safe solar viewing for a direct view. Stained glass and old film negatives aren’t good enough, no matter what you’ve read in old books. You can also use a pinhole projector to safely project an image onto a sidewalk, wall, or other suitable surface. And you can watch an eclipse via an eclipse cam on the internet.

A second lunar perigee is on the 29th at 368,300 kilometers away. A second southern lunistice occurs on the 30th at 27.5°.

The best chance to see Mercury is in the first half of the month. It’s emerging into the morning sky during twilight. It’s at perihelion 6th and greatest elongation two days later. Greatest elongation so soon after perihelion puts the messenger planet at just 18.0° west of the sun.

Venus goes through superior conjunction on the 22nd.

Saturn is retrograde as the month begins. Approaching the 23rd, it becomes stationary. On the 23rd, it resumes direct motion.

Jupiter is retrograde all month.

Mars is moving eastward until the 30th when it begins retrograde motion. For most of the month, it’s heading away from the Hyades V on a track that takes near Tianguan in Taurus. The red planet noticeably slows down after the 23rd and curves toward El Nath at the Taurus/Auriga border. In November and December, the planet retreats to the place near the Hyades until direct motion resumes in January.

The star name Tianguan comes from Chinese astronomy. It means celestial gate and also refers to other stars nearby forming an asterism. In Chinese mythology, Tianguan delivers happiness from heaven.

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