Celestial Events for October 2011
October 12 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This phase occurs at 02:06 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Hunters Moon because at this time of year the leaves are falling and the game is fat and ready to hunt. This will also be the smallest full moon of the year because it will be near apogee, its farthest point from the Earth.
October 16 - Comet Elinin. Newly discovered comet Elinin will make its closest approach to the Earth on October 16. The comet was discovered on December 10, 2010 by Russian amateur astronomer Leonid Elenin. It is estimated that the comet will reach 6th magnitude as it makes its closest approach. This will make it just barely visible to the naked eye. With a good pair of binoculars and a little determination, you may be able to get a good look at this new comet during mid October.
October 21, 22 - Orionids Meteor Shower. The Orionids is an average shower producing about 20 meteors per hour at their peak. This shower usually peaks on the 21st, but it is highly irregular. A good show could be experienced on any morning from October 20 - 24, and some meteors may be seen any time from October 17 - 25. The nearly last quarter moon may hide some of the faintest meteors this year. Best viewing will be to the east after midnight. Be sure to find a dark location far from city lights.
October 26 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 19:56 UTC.
October 29 - Jupiter at Opposition. The giant planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This is the best time to view and photograph Jupiter and its moons. The giant planet will be a big and bright as it gets in the night sky. A medium-sized telescope should be able to show you some of the details in Jupiter's cloud bands. A good pair of binoculars should allow you to see Jupiter's four largest moons, appearing as bright dots on either side of the planet.