Fall season has finally arrived. The Sun crossed the celestial equator and is now heading southward. That moment, referred to as the September or Autumnal equinox, marks the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall 2022 (in the Northern Hemisphere). This year, the equinox occurred on Thursday, September 22nd. From that date forward, the days will continue to get shorter and the nights will be getting longer until we arrive at the winter solstice on Wednesday, December 21st.
During October 2022 you may notice the colorful changing leaves on the ground, but the real treat is what you will see in the sky. Below, we will cover 9 fascinating astronomical events for the month of October.
Without further ado, let's jump right in.
10/2 - 1st Quarter Moon
Kicking off the month, on October 2nd, the Moon will reach the first quarter of its journey around the Earth at 8:14pm ET. This is the point that measures a 90-degree angle from the Sun and portrays a half-illuminated Moon on its eastern side.
10/6 - Camelopardalid Meteor Shower
October 6th marks the peak of the Camelopardalid meteor shower, which originates from the Camelopardalis constellation. As the 18th largest constellation, the Camelopardalis' name comes from the Latin derivative of the Greek word for "Giraffe". It is situated between Cassiopeia and Ursa Major (also known as the "Great Bear").
10/8 - Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation
The planet Mercury will reach its greatest western elongation (approximately 18 degrees from the Sun) on October 8th. As it rises in the pre-dawn sky, Mercury will shine brightly at magnitude -0.5. This is a great time to take out the binoculars or telescope to observe Mercury's waxing phase.
10/9 - Draconid Meteor Shower
Around midnight ET on October 9th, the Draconid meteor shower will peak. This shower originates from the Draco constellation, also known as the "Dragon". Due to its proximity to the north celestial pole, Draco is considered to be circumpolar as it never sets below the horizon.
10/9 - Full Hunter's Moon
On Sunday, October 9th at 4:55pm ET, the Moon will be at its full illumination. It will rise at sunset and set at sunrise, as it is in an opposite position to the Sun. The October Full Moon is referred to as the "Hunter's Moon" (or sometimes the "Full Harvest Moon") by the Native Americans, who would use this time to hunt and gather food for the coming winter season.
10/17 - 3rd Quarter Moon
The Moon's journey around the Earth will reach its third quarter on Monday, October 17th at 1:15pm ET. Similar to the first quarter moon, it will appear half-illuminated. However, this time, on the Moon's western side.
10/21 - Orionids Meteor Shower
On Friday, October 21st, the Orionids meteor shower will reach its peak at around 20 meteors per hour. The radiant, or origination point, is traced back to the Orion constellation (located between Taurus and Gemini). The Orion constellation is known as the "Hunter" and is the 26th largest of our 88 constellations.
10/25 - New Moon
On October 25th at 6:49am ET, the Moon will reach its new lunar phase. This is the point at which the Sun and the Moon are positioned at the same ecliptic longitude, therefore the Moon will appear invisible to the unaided eye. Although this is a mostly unseen event, we still include it here as it is a significant phase in the lunar cycle. Additionally, these are great nights to gaze upon the stars without the moon's light obstructing your views.
10/29 - Mars Retrograde
Mars, similar to the other planets along the ecliptic, appears to move in an eastward direction most of the time. This is referred to as prograde motion. However, every two years, Mars' motion appears to stop and begin to move in a westward motion, which is referred to as retrograde motion. On Saturday, October 29th, Mars will begin this retrograde phase through mid-January 2023. On this day you will see Mars positioned in the eastern sky between the stars Zeta Tauri and Elnath.