October Moon & Planet data for 2013


The Solar System in October 2013

All dates and times are NZDT (UT + 13 hours) unless otherwise specfied.

Phases of the Moon (times as shown by guide)

New moon:      October  5 at  1.35 pm (        00:35 UT)
First quarter: October 12 at 12.02 pm (Oct 11, 23:02 UT)
Full moon:     October 19 at 12.38 pm (Oct 18, 23:38 UT)
Last quarter   October 27 at 12.41 pm (Oct 27, 23:41 UT)

The Planets in October

Mercury remains an easy early evening object during the first part of October. It moves up past Saturn early in the month. By the end of October both planets will be lost in the evening twilight. Venus is well above them and sets after midnight in the second part of October.

In the morning Jupiter emerges further from the Sun to rise about 2 am NZDT but will still be fairly low as seen from mid southern hemisphere latitudes. Mars remains lowe in the dawn sky as it only slowly distances itself from the Sun.

Planets in the Evening Sky: Mercury, Venus and Saturn.

MERCURY sets more than 2 hours after the Sun during the first half of October, so will be easily visible to the west as the sky darkens following sunset. At magnitude 0 it will be a little brighter than Saturn. On the 9th it is at its greatest elongation, 25° east of the Sun. It will remain an easy early evening object until it is stationary on the 21st after which Mercury will move quite rapidly back towards the Sun and become lost to view before the end of the month.

SATURN is also visible as an early evening object during most of October. It starts the month a few degrees to the upper right of Mercury, being nearly 20° above the horizon to the west about 45 minutes after sunset.

As Mercury moves away from the Sun, the distance between the two planets gets less. When the two are closest, Mercury will be less than 5° from Saturn. The best conjunction of the month occurs on the evening of October 7 with the two planets almost level and, as a bonus, the crescent moon, only 6% lit, 2° above Saturn.

By the end of October, both Mercury and Saturn set only half an hour after the Sun, on the last day of the month they are again in conjunction with Mercury a few degrees to the left of Saturn. But of course they are quite unobservable due to their proximity to the Sun.

VENUS meanwhile will be visible virtually all evening. During the second half of October it will set shortly after midnight (NZDT). The moon is closest to Venus on October 8, when our 12.5% lit satellite will be 6° to the lower right of the planet. The following night the 21% lit moon is nearly 11° to the upper right of Venus.

Venus itself passes Antares a little later in the month, the two are 1.6° apart on the evening of the 17th.

JUPITER and MARS in the morning sky.

JUPITER moves further into the morning sky during October but remains rather low. On the 31st it rises close to 2 am, more than 4 hours before the Sun. The planet will remain fairly low in southern skies. By the end of the month and 30 minutes before sunrise, Jupiter will be less than 30° above the horizon for most places in NZ. It will then be only a few degrees to the east of north.

The planet will be in Gemini and lie some 6.5 arc-minutes below the 3.5 magnitude star del-Gem on the morning of the 5th. In Gemini, Jupiter is a few degrees above Pollux. On the 26th, the 62% lit moon is 5° above Jupiter.

MARS is moving away from the Sun a lot less rapidly than Jupiter. Mars rises just over an hour earlier at the end of October compared to the beginning, of the month. But the Sun also rises more than three-quarters of an hour earlier. That is, Mars only gains some 25 minutes on the Sun during the month. As a result it will remain fairly low, some 14° above the horizon as seen from Wellington, 45 minutes before sunrise.

Mars is in Leo during October, moving from west to east past Regulus during the month. At their closest on the 15th, Mars is within 1° of the star. Regulus is slightly brighter at 1.4 compared to Mars at 1.6. And of course the two are very different in colour.

The moon passes Mars twice in October. On the morning of the 1st the moon, less than 19% lit, will be some than 7° above Mars. On the 30th the 25% lit moon is 5.5° above the planet. The increased amount of the moon lit reflects the slowly increasing elongation of Mars from the Sun.

Outer Planets

URANUS is at opposition on October 3 with a magnitude 5.7 The planet is in Pisces close to the constellation’s border with Cetus.

NEPTUNE remains in Aquarius during October, magnitude 7.9. By the end of October it transits, and so is highest, about 9 pm.

Brighter Asteroids:

(1) Ceres and (4) both remain as low objects in the dawn sky, magnitudes about 8.7 and 8.3 respectively. The two asteroids are about 7° apart with Vesta to the upper left of Ceres as seen in the morning sky. They are to the lower right of Mars.

The two asteroids start the month in Leo but moves into Virgo during October, Ceres on the 17th and Vesta on the 28th.

(2) Pallas is in Hydra and brightens slightly during October from 9.0 to 8.8. It rises just after 2 am early in October, and just before 1 am by the month’s end. It will then be 8° above alpha Hya, mag 2.0, as seen an hour or so before sunrise.

(7) Iris is in Aquarius and fades a little during October from magnitude 8.8 to 9.3. It is an evening object and transits about 9.45 pm on the 1st and 8 pm on the 31st.

(20) Massalia is at opposition on the last day of October, when it brightens to magnitude 8.8. The asteroid is in Aries; on the 31st it will be about 10° to the upper right of the second manitude star Hamal, alpha Ari.

(324) Bamberga starts October at magnitude 8.6 but fades during the month to 9.4. It is an evening object with a transit about 11.30 pm on the 1st and 2 hours earlier on the 31st. The asteroid starts the month in Pisces close to the southern most corner of the constellation in Pegasus. Bamberga loops into Pegasus on the 9th.


Events Diary

The follwing table lists various solar system object events during October. A list of astronomical terms used in may be found after the table.

October 1 Regulus 5.3 degrees north of the Moon
October 3 Uranus at opposition
October 5 Moon new
Spica 0.8 degrees south of the Moon Occn
October 7 Mercury 2.7 degrees south of the Moon
Saturn 1.9 degrees north of the Moon
October 8 Venus 4.6 degrees south of the Moon
Mercury 5.0 degrees south of Saturn
October 9 Mercury greatest elong E(25)
Moon southern most declination (-19.6 degrees)
October 10 Moon at perigee
October 11 Pluto 1.6 degrees south of the Moon
Moon first quarter
October 15 Neptune 5.4 degrees south of the Moon
Mars 0.9 degrees north of Regulus
October 16 Venus 1.5 degrees north of Antares
October 17 Uranus 3.2 degrees south of the Moon
October 18 Moon full Eclipse
October 21 Mercury stationary
October 22 Aldebaran 2.7 degrees south of the Moon
October 23 Moon northern most declination (19.6 degrees)
October 25 Moon at apogee
Jupiter 5.0 degrees north of the Moon
October 26 Moon last quarter
October 29 Regulus 5.3 degrees north of the Moon
Mercury 3.6 degrees south of Saturn
  • apogee: Furtherest point in the orbit of a body orbiting the Earth
  • declination: 'Latitude' for celestial objects. The distance in degress above (north) or below (south) the celestial equator.
  • perigee: Nearest point in the orbit of a body orbiting the Earth