Astronomy Essentials

Visible planets and night sky October 2022

Star chart with Great Square, Circlet, green line of ecliptic, and Jupiter near ecliptic.
The bright “star” ascending in the east at nightfall is really a planet, the largest of the planets in our solar system, Jupiter. This planet’s opposition – when Earth flew between Jupiter and the sun – was on September 26. A dark sky reveals the bright planet directly south of the Great Square of the constellation Pegasus. Between the Great Square and bright planet is a pretty, but faint group of 6 stars known as the Circlet in the constellation Pisces. Chart via John Jardine Goss/ EarthSky.

Visible planets (evening)

Saturn is high in the sky after sunset – golden in color, shining steadily – perfect for observing all evening. Saturn sets around 2 a.m. local time.
Jupiter is brighter than all the stars. It’s ascending in the east after sunset, visible all night.
Mars rises in the east around 10 p.m. (that’s local time, the time on your clock). It’s very red now and brighter than most stars, racing towards its December 8 opposition, when Earth will fly between Mars and the sun.

Visible planets (morning)

On October mornings, three bright planets arc across the sky: Mercury, Mars and Jupiter.
Mercury in early October is just beginning its best morning apparition of the year for Northern Hemisphere observers. You’ll find it bright in the east before sunup.
Jupiter spends all night arcing across the sky. It’s in the west before sunup, brighter than all the stars.
Mars shines down from high in the sky at sunup.

Where is Venus?

Venus, the brightest planet and next planet inward from Earth in orbit around the sun – will go behind the sun as seen from Earth on October 22. So Venus is hidden in the sun’s glare now. It’ll return to our evening sky before the year ends.

Note: Our charts are mostly set for the northern half of Earth. To see a precise view from your location, try Stellarium Online.

Looking for a dark sky? Try EarthSky’s Best Places to Stargaze

In this article:

Visible planets and night sky guide October, 2022

Early October mornings: Zodiacal lights 90 minutes before sunrise

Slanted cone of fuzzy, dim light in night sky with short, thin streak of light near top.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Take advantage of these moon-free mornings to look in the east, about 90 minutes before sunrise, for the zodiacal light. This false dawn is caused by sunlight reflecting off dust in the plane of our solar system. Kris Hazelbaker in Grangeville, Idaho, captured this photo of the zodiacal light and a meteor on October 11, 2021. Kris said: “I had seen the zodiacal light the previous morning, so I made sure my gear was set up that night for early morning action. After framing the image, I set my intervalometer and let it run as the light got brighter. After downloading the pics, I found this one that includes a meteor.” Thank you, Kris!

October 4 and 5 evenings: Gibbous moon by Saturn

Two positions of the moon near the green line of the ecliptic with Saturn nearby.
The waxing gibbous moon hangs low in the south after sunset on October 4 and 5, 2022. It lies next to the planet Saturn in Capricornus the Sea-goat. If you have a dark sky, you’ll notice that Capricornus has the shape of an arrowhead. In fact, you can watch Saturn and the moon crossing the sky nearly all night, traveling along the ecliptic, the same path the sun travels during the day. Read more about the moon near Saturn. Chart via John Jardine Goss/ EarthSky.

October 7 and 8 evenings: Gibbous moon near Jupiter

Chart with green line of ecliptic, two positions of moon approaching full, and Jupiter.
On the evenings of October 7 and 8, 2022, the waxing gibbous moon lights the sky near bright Jupiter. Additionally, above the bright planet is a pretty but faint group of 6 stars known as the Circlet in Pisces. Read more about the moon near Jupiter. Chart via John Jardine Goss/ EarthSky.

October mornings: Mercury for the Northern Hemisphere

Nearly vertical green line of ecliptic with Regulus above and Mercury near horizon.
Mercury lies in the east before sunrise the first half of October, from around the world. But it’s hard to see from Earth’s Southern Hemisphere. Meanwhile, it’s beginning its best morning apparition of 2022 for the Northern Hemisphere. The little planet reaches its greatest angular distance from the sun on October 8, 2022. So it’s at its greatest distance from the sunrise and at its highest position above the dawn horizon. Additionally, higher in the morning sky is Regulus, brightest star in Leo the Lion. Chart via John Jardine Goss/ EarthSky.

October mornings: Mercury for the Southern Hemisphere

Slanted green line of ecliptic with Regulus and Mercury barely above horizon.
From the Southern Hemisphere, Mercury peeks above the eastern horizon just before sunrise in the first half of October 2022. In this case, because the ecliptic – or path of the sun, moon and planets – is tilted sharply with respect to the horizon, the little planet doesn’t rise very high before sunrise. Chart via John Jardine Goss/ EarthSky.

The instant of full moon is 20:55 UTC (3:55 p.m. CDT) on October 9

October 9 evening: The full Hunter’s Moon

Chart with slanted green line of ecliptic, full moon, and Jupiter farther along ecliptic.
The October 2022 full moon – known as the Hunter’s Moon – rises near sunset on October 9. The bright light west of the full moon is the planet Jupiter.

October 12 after midnight: Moon occults Uranus

Complex chart with green ecliptic line, Mars, Aldebaran, and moon next to Uranus.
At 7 UTC (2 a.m. CDT) on October 12, 2022, the bright gibbous moon lies just 0.8 degrees (almost two full moons) above very dim Uranus. Indeed, binoculars will be needed to spot the faint planet. In regions of the United States and Canada, north of a diagonal line from the central California coast, through northern Minnesota, and through northern Quebec, the moon covers, or occults, Uranus. The pair lies west of the Pleiades and in eastern Aries. Also, note reddish Aldebaran and Mars below them in the sky. Mars will continue brightening between now and its opposition in December. Read more about the moon occulting Uranus. Chart via John Jardine Goss/ EarthSky.

October 13 and 14 late night: Moon by Pleiades and Mars

Chart: Steep green ecliptic line with Mars, 2 positions of the moon, and Aldebaran near it.
Now is a great time to be watching for Mars! And for those of us in the Americas, the waning gibbous moon lies between the delicate Pleiades and bright Mars – late at night until dawn – on October 13, 2022, and next to bright Mars on October 14. Elsewhere on the globe, you’ll find Mars somewhere in the vicinity of the moon on these same nights (try Stellarium for an exact view from your location). Also, notice the nearby red star Aldebaran, fiery eye of Taurus the Bull. Mars will continue to brighten between now and December 8, when it will reach its once-in-2-years opposition. Chart via John Jardine Goss/ EarthSky.

October 14 and 15 mornings: Moon near Mars and Pleiades

Green line of ecliptic with moon and Mars along it and constellation Orion below.
You can see Mars in the morning sky, too. For example, on the mornings of October 14 and 15, 2022, the waning gibbous moon glows near the shimmering Pleiades star cluster – a true family of stars, born together in space – and also near bright red Mars. They all lie close to the noticeable constellation Orion the Hunter. Mars – the red planet – is now brighter than two nearby red stars – Aldebaran in Taurus and Betelgeuse in Orion – because Mars is drawing ever-nearer to its opposition on December 8. That’s when Earth will pass between Mars and the sun, and the distance between our two worlds will be least, not just this year but for about a two-year period. Chart via John Jardine Goss/ EarthSky.

The instant of last quarter moon is 17:15 UTC (12:15 p.m. CDT) on October 17

October 17 morning: Moon near Castor and Pollux

Green line of ecliptic with moon, Castor, Pollux near it, and Procyon below.
The morning of October 17, 2922, finds the last quarter moon glowing high in the east immediately west of the two brightest stars of Gemini the Twins the Twins, Castor and Pollux. Conversely, these two stars don’t look alike, but they stay noticeably near each other in the sky. Castor is the slightly dimmer star of the pair. And Pollux is more golden in color. Also nearby is Procyon, the brightest star in Canis Minor the Lesser Dog. It’s sometimes called the Little Dog Star. Chart via John Jardine Goss/ EarthSky.

October 20 morning: Moon near Regulus

Chart: Steep green line of ecliptic with crescent moon near Regulus close to ecliptic.
The morning of October 20, 2022, finds the waning crescent moon hanging near Regulus, the brightest star in Leo the Lion. We typically think of Regulus as a spring star. And indeed, it’ll be in our evening sky six months from now! Chart via John Jardine Goss/ EarthSky.

Around October 23: Saturn ends retrograde

Chart: Green ecliptic line passing through constellation and Saturn nearby.
As evening falls throughout October 2022, look for bright golden Saturn in the southern sky. The planet is “stationary” – ending its westward or retrograde motion – on October 23. The end of retrograde motion marks the end of the best months to see Saturn. From here on, the planet will be moving eastward in front of the stars again (its normal direction). However, it’ll be shifting westward from night to night, with respect to the meridian (a line in our sky, running due south to due north), as Earth moves around the sun. So, by the year’s end, Saturn will be near the sunset, not visible for long each evening. Also, if you have a dark sky, you can see that Saturn shines in the dim but pretty constellation Capricornus the Sea-goat, which has the shape of an arrowhead. Chart via John Jardine Goss/ EarthSky.

October 23 and 24 mornings: Moon near Mercury

Chart: Nearly vertical green ecliptic line with Mercury near horizon and 2 positions of thin crescent moon.
The slender waning crescent moon floats above the eastern horizon in the morning twilight October 23, 2022. On the following morning, it lies just above the horizon and above the sometimes difficult-to-spot Mercury. Moreover, the beautiful glow you see on the unlit portion of the moon is earthshine. Chart via John Jardine Goss/ EarthSky.

The instant of new moon is 10:49 UTC (5:49 a.m. CDT) on October 25

The beginning of a partial solar eclipse is 08:58 UTC on October 25

October-November-December 2022 heliocentric solar system planets

The sun-centered charts below come from Guy Ottewell. You’ll find charts like these for every month of 2022 here, in his Astronomical Calendar. Guy Ottewell explains:

In these views from ecliptic north, arrows (thinner when south of the ecliptic plane) are the paths of the four inner planets. Dots along the rest of the orbits are five days apart (and are black for the part of its course that a planet has trodden since the beginning of the year). Also, semicircles show the sunlit side of the new and full moon (vastly exaggerated in size and distance). Additionally, pairs of lines point outward to the more remote planets.

Phenomena such as perihelia (represented by ticks) and conjunctions (represented by lines between planets) are at dates that can be found in the Astronomical Calendar. Likewise, Gray covers the half of the universe below the horizon around 10 p.m. at mid-month (as seen from the equator). The zodiacal constellations are in directions from the Earth at mid-month (not from the sun).

Circle with sun at center, planets around, and zodiac names on outer edge.
View larger. | Heliocentric view of solar system, October 2022. Chart via Guy Ottewell.
Circle with sun at center, planets around, and zodiac names on outer edge.
View larger. | Heliocentric view of solar system, November 2022. Chart via Guy Ottewell.
Circle with sun at center, planets around, and zodiac names on outer edge.
View larger. | Heliocentric view of solar system, December 2022. Chart via Guy Ottewell.

Some resources to enjoy

Don’t miss anything. Subscribe to daily emails from EarthSky. It’s free!

Visit EarthSky’s Best Places to Stargaze to find a dark-sky location near you.

Post your own night sky photos at EarthSky Community Photos.

Translate Universal Time (UTC) to your time.

See the indispensable Observer’s Handbook, from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Visit Stellarium-Web.org for precise views from your location.

Visit TheSkyLive for precise views from your location.

Back by popular demand! Guy Ottewell’s Astronomical Calendar for 2022.

Great resource and beautiful wall chart: Guy Ottewell’s zodiac wavy chart.

A modern chair, a large plant and the zodiac wavy chart on the wall.
Guy Ottewell’s Zodiac Wavy Chart is a 2-by-3 foot (0.6 by 0.9 meter) poster displaying the movements of the sun, moon and planets throughout the year. You can purchase it here. Image via Guy Ottewell.

Bottom line: In October, the morning planets are Mercury, Mars and Jupiter. In the evening, Saturn and Jupiter are visible as night falls, with Mars rising a few hours later.

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Posted 
September 25, 2022
 in 
Astronomy Essentials

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