What’s Up October 2023

A monthly look at astronomical events in the sky and on Earth

Compiled by Steve Sawyer

Hi welcome to Octobers What’s up. We’re now moving into darker and longer nights with the end of BST on the 29th. Last month saw the society celebrate it’s 50th Anniversary with a special all day event which was well attended and great fun.
This month we have the Orionids and a partial lunar eclipse to look forward to.

So what’s on this month?

Sky Diary

1stMoon near Jupiter
2ndMoon between Jupiter and Pleiades
3rdMoon near Aldebaran and Pleiades
6thLast Quarter Moon and Moon near Castor and Pollux
10thMoon near Venus and Regulus
11thMoon near Venus and Regulus
14thNew Moon and annular solar eclipse
18thMoon near Antares
22ndFirst Quarter Moon and Orionids
23rdVenus W elongation. Moon near Saturn
24thMoon near Saturn
28thFull Moon, Moon near Jupiter, partial lunar eclipse
29thBST ends. Moon between Jupiter and Pleiades
30thMoon near Pleiades

Sky Maps

looking South on the 15th at 22:00

Looking North on the 15th at 22:00

he two charts above show all DSOs of magnitude 6.0 or brighter. They are both taken from
SkyViewCafe.com and correct for the 15th of the month. For a clickable list of Messier objects with images, use the Wikipedia link.

Octobers Objects

The Sun

After a large CME hit that caused rare red auroras in late September the Suns activity has calmed somewhat. There are no geomagnetic storms brewing at the moment. However a new area of sunspots in the suns northeastern limb is building and could be the source of some forthcoming solar flares.


For more info on the sun and solar weather look here : –

Space Weather Enthusiasts Dashboard | NOAA / NWS Space Weather Prediction Center

Auroa Forcasts

A bit US centred but still useful

Aurora Dashboard (Experimental) | NOAA / NWS Space Weather Prediction Center

And our own Met-office have an excellent space weather forecast page here Space Weather – Met Office

The Moon

The month starts with a Waning Gibbous phase that is 91.1% illuminated. As the days progress, the Moon’s illumination will decrease, leading to the Third Quarter phase. Mid-month, around the 13th, we can expect a New Moon, offering the darkest skies for deep-sky observations. Following this, the Moon will transition into its First Quarter phase around the 21st, gradually increasing its illumination. The month culminates in a Full Moon on the 28th
On the 28th The Moon will pass into the Earths shadow creating a lunar eclipse, this will start at 8:35pm and ends at 9:53pm.

See the sky diary for this month’s lunar events as there are some nice viewing opportunities.

A full lunar calendar can be found here:-




Only visible for the first few mornings in October and then disappears into the pre-dawn glow.


Rising at around 3am Venus is very bright at mag -4.4 and reaches it’s greatest separation from the sun on the 23rd of October. Venus is joined by the crescent moon and Regulus on the mornings of the 10th and 11th of October.


Not visible this month


Jupiter is the pick of the planets this month and can be found in the south rising at around 7pm reaching it’s highest point at around 3am. Jupiter is join by the moon on the 1st and 28th of the month.


Found well to the right of Jupiter and in the constellation Aquarius. The ringed planet is at mag +0.6 and sets around 2;30am


Can be found in Aries and rises around 7pm at mag _5.7


Neptune is an evening planet this month and can be found in Pisces at a mag of +7.8

Meteor Showers


The biggest shower this month peaking on the night of the 21/22, but meteors are visible from the 2nd October-7th November. This is a good year to watch the debris from Halley’s Comet hitting the Earths atmosphere as the Moon sets at around 10pm making for darker skies.



Peaking on the night of the 8/9 this shower is also known as the Giacobinids, after the French astronomer Michel Giacobini who discovered the comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner1. This comet is the source of the dust and debris that create the meteors when they enter Earth’s atmosphere.
The radiant point is located in the constellation Draco, the dragon, which can be found in the northern sky. The moon will be a waning crescent and will not interfere much with the visibility of the meteors.


There are 3 main comets visible this month.

Hartley (103P)

Hartley (103P) is a small, peanut-shaped comet that takes about 6.5 years to orbit the sun. It was first spotted in 1986 by Malcolm Hartley at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia. It will be most visible around October 12, when it reaches its perihelion (closest point to the sun). It can be seen with binoculars or a small telescope in the constellation Auriga, which contains the bright star Capella.

Encke (2P)

Encke (2P) is one of the shortest-period comets known, taking only 3.3 years to orbit the sun. It was first observed by Pierre Méchain in 1786 and later named after Johann Franz Encke, who calculated its orbit. It will reach its perihelion on October 22, when it will have a magnitude of 7.3. It will be visible in the morning sky just before sunrise in the northern hemisphere, in the constellation Leo.

Tsuchinshan (62P)

Tsuchinshan (62P) is a short-period comet that takes about 6.7 years to orbit the sun. It was discovered in 1965 by astronomers at the Purple Mountain Observatory in China, which is also known as Tsuchinshan. It will reach its perihelion on October 30, when it will have a magnitude of 9.9.

These are the other viewable comets this month, the ones listed below start at mag 7 and go to mag 13.

103P/Hartley 27
C/2020 V2 (ZTF)9
62P/Tsuchinshan 112
C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS)12
12P/Pons- Brooks13
C/2022 A2 (PanSTARRS)13
C/2023 E1 (ATLAS)13
29P/Schwassmann- Wachmann 113
C/2021 X1 (Maury- Attard)13

Deep Sky (DSO’s)

This month we’re looking at Cassiopeia


A very easy to find constellation and easily visible during October, Cassiopeia is renowned for its distinctive “W” shape, formed by its five main stars: Schedar, Caph, Gamma Cassiopeiae, Ruchbah, and Segin.
In Greek mythology, Cassiopeia was a vain queen who boasted about her beauty, leading to divine retribution that placed her in the sky to circle the North Star for eternity.

Owl Cluster (NGC 457)

Also known as the “ET Cluster,” this open star cluster resembles an owl or even the fictional character ET. It’s a popular target for amateur astronomers and is relatively easy to spot with a small telescope.

Pacman Nebula (NGC 281)

This emission nebula gets its name from its resemblance to the video game character Pac-Man. It’s a complex region of gas and dust where new stars are forming.

M52 (NGC 7654)

This is another open star cluster, located about 5,000 light-years away. It’s an excellent target for telescopes of all sizes.

M103 (NGC 581)

This is a relatively loose open star cluster that is about 10,000 light-years away. It contains around 40 stars and is one of the more distant Messier objects.

IC 1805, Heart Nebula

This is an emission nebula located about 7,500 light-years away, and it’s part of a complex that also includes the Soul Nebula. It’s best viewed through larger telescopes and is a popular target for astrophotography.


Iota Cassiopeiae

This is a triple star system that’s a popular target for amateur astronomers. The primary star is a giant, and the system includes two fainter companions.

Eta Cassiopeiae

This is a binary star system consisting of a yellow dwarf (similar to our Sun) and a red dwarf. It’s one of the nearest star systems to Earth and is often studied for its similarity to our own solar system.

Sigma Cassiopeiae

This is another binary star system, but the two stars are so close together that they can only be resolved with a telescope equipped with high magnification.

Phi Cassiopeiae

This is a yellow supergiant star that’s about 1,000 times more luminous than our Sun. It’s often studied for its unusual spectral characteristics.

ISS and other orbiting bits

Not many sightings available this month, check out the website listed below for sightings later on this month.

Use the this NASA website for exact timings for York overpasses. York, England, United Kingdom | Sighting Opportunity | Spot The Station | NASA

Useful Resources







Top 10 Winter Sky Targets for Skywatchers | Space

and of course the sky at night magazine!

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