Breakdown: Why October is a good month to see meteors & planets

Published: Oct. 3, 2021 at 5:47 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) -October is going to be a great month to look up with several planets and a couple of meteor showers that are expected to peak this month.

This month kicks off with a minor meteor shower called the Draconid meteor shower. It’s not the most active shower but maybe be worth a look especially if skies are clear. The shower is active October 6 -10 but the shower will peak on October 8.

Just a few days later on October 10 will be the peak of the Southern Taurid Meteor Shower. This meteor shower typically produces up to 5 meteors per hour but has been know to produce fireballs. There’s been some debate over when the Southern Taurids will peak this year. Some astronomers are saying the 10 while others October 29th/30th and still others say on November 5th. I say

On October 13th you can spot 2 planets and the moon. The waning moon and and bright Venus will be visible the 13th night. They won’t be extremely close but it should be easy to spot bright Venus and the crescent moon. Another great reason to look up on the 13th is that the Red Planet will visible, Mars. It will be in the southern sky and while it won’t be at is closest to earth, it will be in opposition. Opposition means the earth will be in between the red planet and the sun.

The best show in the sky in October is the Orionids meteor shower. The shower will be active on October 16 and goes through October 30 but it will peak on October 21st. This shower is capable of producing up to 25 meteors per hour on the peak night. Look into the eastern sky where you find Orion to see the meteor shower. The best time to view the Orionids will be in the pre-dawn hours of 3:30 am-5:00 am.

Saturn and Jupiter will be in the same part of the sky this month and have a close approach with the Moon on the same night of the month. Jupiter will be closest to the moon first around dusk on Oct 22 and just a few hours later the Moon and Saturn will then appear close to each other. You may be able to capture all three!

On October 29 the Moon and Mars will be near each other again but moonlight could get in the way, making it hard to see Mars.

On October 31st, Halloween and the last day of the month will end with Uranus being visible. Uranus will be visible at its brightest all year making it the best time to view. The only issue is that the moon will be full and its brightest but Uranus should still be visible according to astronomers.

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