October 2023 Celestial Events: Two Eclipses, Seven Meteor Showers and Bright Venus
In this article, you'll find all the astronomical events that can be observed in the sky in October 2023, as well as a short description of the planets’ and comets’ visibility. Let's get to the sky forecast for this month!
- Astronomical events in October 2023
- Planets in October 2023
- Annular solar eclipse
- Partial lunar eclipse
- Venus near Regulus
- Meteors showers in October 2023: Draconids and Orionids are peaking
- Comets in October 2023
- How to navigate the night sky?
- Bottom line: space events in October 2023
Astronomical events in October 2023
Event dates are listed in GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). For your location, they may differ due to different time zones. To find out the exact time and date of an event in your city, use the Sky Tonight app.
- October 2: Moon passes 3°09' from Jupiter (mag -2.8).
- October 3: Moon passes 1°06' from the Pleiades (mag 1.2).
- October 6: Last Quarter Moon; October Camelopardalids’ peak (ZHR = 5).
- October 7: Moon passes 1°24' from Pollux (mag 1.2).
- October 9: Venus passes 2°18' from Regulus (mag 1.4) 🌟; Draconids’ peak (ZHR = 10). 🌟
- October 10: Moon passes 6°29' from Venus (mag -4.6).
- October 11: Delta Aurigids’ peak (ZHR = 2).
- October 13: Southern Taurids’ early peak (ZHR = 5).
- October 14: Annular solar eclipse (visible in North and South America) 🌟; New Moon; Moon passes 0°36' from Mercury (mag -1.4).
- October 15: Moon passes 0°54' from Mars (mag 1.6).
- October 18: Moon passes 0°54' from Antares (mag 1.1); lunar occultation of Antares (visible from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen, and Iraq) 🌟; Epsilon Geminids’ peak (ZHR = 3).
- October 20: Mercury in conjunction with the Sun.
- October 22: First Quarter Moon; Orionids’ peak (ZHR = 20). 🌟
- October 23: Venus at greatest western elongation.
- October 24: Moon passes 2°46' from Saturn (mag 0.7); Leonis Minorids’ peak (ZHR = 2).
- October 28: Partial lunar eclipse (coverage 6.05%); Full Hunter’s Moon. 🌟
- October 29: Moon passes 2°54' from Jupiter (mag -2.9).
- October 30: Moon passes 59.3' from the Pleiades (mag -1.3).
*The highlighted events are the most spectacular events of the month.
Planets in October 2023
Mercury (mag -1.3) is visible in the early morning near the eastern horizon in the constellation of Virgo. To find Venus (mag -4.7), look southeast in the morning — the planet is in Leo. Mars (mag 1.5) is too close to the Sun to be visible; the planet stays in Virgo in the beginning and middle of the month, then moves to Libra. Jupiter (mag -2.8) is visible all night in Aries. Saturn (mag 0.8) is visible in Aquarius all evening and night. Uranus (mag 5.6) is visible in Aries all night; use binoculars or a telescope to see the planet. Even dimmer Neptune (mag 7.8) is in Pisces all evening and night.
Mercury (mag -1.3) is very close to the eastern horizon in the morning in Virgo. See Venus (mag -4.7) low above the northeastern horizon in the morning in Leo. Look for Mars (mag 1.7) near the western horizon in the evening in Virgo from the beginning to the middle of the month. Jupiter (mag -2.8) is visible all night and morning in Aries. Find Saturn (mag 0.8) in the evening and night in Aquarius. With binoculars or a telescope, Uranus (mag 5.6) is visible night and morning in Aries. Neptune (mag 7.8) stays above the horizon all night in Pisces.
Annular solar eclipse
On October 14, 2023, an annular solar eclipse will take place over North and South America. You might have heard of the Great North American Eclipse — well, it will be a truly fascinating sight for observers within certain areas.
Annularity (when the Sun forms a “ring of fire” around the Moon) will be visible along the narrow path: from Oregon to Texas in the US, on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, plus in parts of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, and Brazil.
You can learn more about this event from our dedicated article: there, we provide the eclipse schedule for different time zones and explain the easy way to track the eclipse. Try not to miss this event! The next annular eclipse will occur on October 2, 2024, but will be visible from the Pacific Ocean, southern Chile, and southern Argentina.
Partial lunar eclipse
One more but much less spectacular eclipse will take place two weeks later, on October 28, 2023. This will be a partial lunar eclipse, where the Moon coverage will be only 6%, meaning the eclipse will be barely visible, especially to the naked eye. At least some parts of this eclipse will be visible over Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, North America, much of South America, the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, the Arctic, and Antarctica.
The partial eclipse will begin on October 28, at 19:35 GMT (3:35 p.m. EDT), reach its maximum at 20:14 GMT (4:14 p.m. EDT), and end at 20:52 GMT (4:52 p.m. EDT). During the partial phase, the lunar disc will look clipped, just as if someone took a tiny bite from our natural satellite. To learn when the next eclipse is, check out our constantly updated infographic. But even if you miss the eclipse, don’t worry — the Full Moon itself is a beautiful event.
Venus near Regulus
On October 9, Venus will pass near Regulus. Since both objects are very bright (magnitude -4.6 and 1.4, respectively), this will be a remarkable event for observers. In addition, the planet and star will be easy to see, remaining relatively high above the eastern horizon before dawn. Look for them in the constellation Leo about an hour before sunrise. The thin crescent Moon will be nearby.
Meteors showers in October 2023: Draconids and Orionids are peaking
This month, seven meteor showers will reach their maximum activity: October Camelopardalids, Draconids, Delta Aurigids, Epsilon Geminids, Orionids, and Leonis Minorids. But only two of them, the Draconids and Orionids, can provide 10 or more meteors per hour during their peak.
First up, the Draconids on the night of October 8-9. Unlike most meteor showers that are best seen after midnight, these are brightest in the early evening, just after it gets dark. The good news is there won't be any bright moonlight to spoil the view. While no unusual activity is predicted this year, keep your eyes open! The Draconids sometimes surprise us with sudden bursts of meteor activity.
Around two weeks later, on the night of October 21-22, we have the Orionids meteor shower reaching its peak. No matter where you are in the world, the best time to catch it is after local midnight. By this time, the Moon will have set, making for darker skies.
In the years from 2012 to 2022, during their peak, the Orionids typically delivered between 20 to 30 meteors per hour. However, sometimes, they might give us fewer meteors or maintain a similar level of activity for several nights around their peak. So, keep your eyes on the sky!
For more about meteor showers this month, read our guide on meteors in October.
Comets in October 2023
Here are some of the comets that are best observable this October. To locate them in the sky, use the Sky Tonight app. Launch the app, type the name of the comet in the search, and tap the target icon next to the corresponding result. The app will show you where the comet is in the sky right now!
The green comet C/2023 P1 (Nishimura) was all over the news in September 2023, shining bright in the sky. However, after the perihelion on September 17, it faded out rapidly, and in early October, it’ll have a magnitude of about 7-8, being visible only via binoculars or a telescope. According to Seiichi Yoshida, the comet appears in October in the Southern Hemisphere and in November in the Northern Hemisphere. Use your last chances to see comet Nishimura – it won’t come back for another 430 years!
2P/Encke passed closest to the Earth on September 24 and is now heading to its nearest point to the Sun on October 22. Around then, it'll shine at magnitude 7.3, visible with binoculars and telescopes. It'll be observable low in the eastern sky from the Northern Hemisphere before perihelion. After that, the comet will remain too close to the Sun.
C/2023 H2 (Lemmon) is expected to brighten to magnitude 10.1 around perihelion on October 29. The comet will continue to brighten as it makes its closest approach to the Earth in November. According to different forecasts, its peak magnitude will be around 7.5 to 8. C/2023 H2 is already visible from the Northern Hemisphere and will be visible from southern latitudes in November.
103P/Hartley already passed the nearest approach to the Earth on September 26 and is now heading to the perihelion on October 12. Around this time, according to various estimates, the comet will become as bright as 10.4 magnitude to 7.5 magnitude. From the Northern Hemisphere, it will be well observable in October; from the Southern Hemisphere, the comet will be visible lower above the horizon. 103P/Hartley is a Jupiter-family comet with an orbital period of 6.5 years. Its 2023 apparition is a favorable one: the comet will approach us at 0.38 AU (almost three times closer than the comet Encke this year).
How to navigate the night sky?
To find stars, planets, and other celestial objects in the sky, use a convenient tool: the Sky Tonight app. It is an interactive map of the sky that you can use on your phone or tablet. The best part? You don't even need the internet once it's on your phone, so it's perfect for outdoor adventures like camping and hiking.
All you have to do is open the app and point your device toward the sky, and the app will identify constellations, stars, and more for you. Plus, if you're really keen on mastering the night sky, there are some helpful videos that can teach you how to use Sky Tonight.
Bottom line: space events in October 2023
In October 2023, there are some exciting celestial events to watch out for. These include an annular solar eclipse (often called a "Ring of Fire"), a partial lunar eclipse, the peak of two major meteor showers and a Venus-Regulus conjunction. To help you explore these events in the sky, you can use the Sky Tonight astronomy app. It's your handy guide to the stars!