What's Up - October 2015

With daylight saving kicking in this month we have to wait longer into the evening before it gets dark enough to see the stars we all love.  October is the last month to truly enjoy the majesty of the central bulge of the Milky Way before it gets too close to the Sun late next month for observation.  As the central bulge sets look in the opposite direction and you will see the famous Orion constellation rising surrounded on both sides by familiar features like the Pleiades, Hyades and Sirius the brightest star in the night sky.
As the weather continues to warm up try and catch a glimpse of the Andromeda Galaxy.  This mainly northern hemisphere object requires a good view of the northern horizon with no significant lights in that direction.  It currently rises at about 10pm in the NNE and only reaches about 15 degrees above the horizon before sinking back down below the horizon in the NW at about 4pm.
Mercury is difficult to spot this month being at inferior conjunction at the start of the month and then barely rising above the horizon on the 16th when it is furthest away from the Sun.  Venus shines brightly in the pre dawn sky to the east.  On the morning of the 9th there is a lunar occultation of Venus visible for central and eastern states.  If you miss the occultation early in the morning, when you do drag yourself out of bed, it would be a perfect time to try and spot Venus during the day as the Moon will give you a great reference point.  Use a building or tree to block out the Sun.  Later in the month Venus, Mars and Jupiter will be just 5 degrees apart and on the 26th Jupiter and Venus will be just 1 degree apart.  Spectacular!  Jupiter and Mars have their own really close encounter on the 18th and will be just point four degrees apart.  Looks like a month of early rises if you want to witness a great planetary dance.  Saturn is visible in the west in the early evening before currently setting at about 11pm.  Uranus is at opposition on the 12th making it an ideal time to try and observe this distant planet. Neptune is in Aquarius and crosses the meridian at about 9pm this month.