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.
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).
Marcy Curran has enjoyed star gazing since she was a young girl going on family camping trips under the dark skies of Wyoming. She bought her first telescope in time to see Halley’s comet in 1985 on its way in to another close encounter with the sun. Her passion for astronomy eventually led her to being a co-founder of a local astronomical society. Marcy remains active in her astronomy club including being the editor of a monthly newsletter. She also contributes a monthly article to her local newspaper focusing on the stars, planets and objects currently visible in the nighttime sky. Marcy taught astronomy at her local community college for over 20 years. Marcy retired in December 2021 and is delighted to join Earthsky.org as an editor of night sky articles. Her hobbies - other than star gazing - include reading, knitting, jigsaw puzzles and photography. Marcy and her husband live in Wyoming.
“I can sometimes see the moon in the daytime” was a cosmic revelation that John Jardine Goss first discovered through personal observations when he was 6 years old. It shook his young concept of the universe and launched his interest in astronomy and stargazing, a fascination he still holds today. John is past president of the Astronomical League, the largest U.S. federation of astronomical societies, with over 20,000 members. He's earned the title of Master Observer and has authored the celestial observing guides Exploring the Starry Realm and Carpe Lunam. John also writes a monthly stargazing column, Roanoke Skies, for the Roanoke Times, and a bimonthly column, Skywatch, for Blue Ridge Country magazine. He has contributed to Sky and Telescope magazine, the IDA Nightscape, the Astronomical League’s Reflector magazine, and the RASC Observer’s Handbook.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.
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