FOX23 Sky Watch: What to see in the skies over Green Country

FOX23 Sky Watch: What to see in the skies over Green Country

Quick Facts:

  • Two full moons in October
  • Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn visible in the evening sky this month
  • Venus visible in the morning sky
  • The next reliable meteor shower will be the Orionids in October
  • Look below for updated ISS viewing times

FOX23 Sky Watch provides weekly updates on what you can see in the night skies over Green Country. Certified Meteorologist Laura Mock lets you know when and where to look and how to best see some of the night sky’s best shows. Information about International Space Stations viewing times, the best meteor showers, spotting planets, or when the moon will be big and bright. FOX23 Sky Watch airs every Friday in the 9 PM Newscast and again Saturday mornings.

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VIDEO: FOX23's Sky Watch- When you can catch meteor showers next week

International Space Station times

(ISS viewings lower than 25° or visible less than 2 min not included)

  • Thursday, October 22 - 6:47 AM, Visible: 6 minutes, Max Height: 83°, Appears: southwest, Disappears, northeast
  • Friday, October 23 - 6:01 AM, Visible: 3 minutes, Max Height: 42°, Appears: south, Disappears, northeast
  • Saturday, October 24 - 6:49 AM, Visible: 5 minutes, Max Height: 30°, Appears: west, Disappears, northeast

The International Space Station will look like a bright star. Its brightness will be constant, not twinkling. Even though it will look like a star, it will be moving steadily across the sky. A max height is given with each ISS viewing opportunity. It’s given in degrees of the sky from the horizon. Directly overhead is 90° and right at the horizon is 0°.

Moon phases

  • New Moon: Friday, October 16
  • First Quarter: Friday, October 23
  • Full Moon: Saturday, October 31 (Micromoon)

Mars staying brighter

Mars rises in the eastern sky around sunset. Rising high in the sky through the night, the red planet will be one of the brightest objects in the sky. Mars was at it’s brightest on Tuesday, October 6. Mars was at it’s closest to Earth that day, and directly opposite the sun making it extra bright for us. We see Mars brighten up like this about every 2 years. This month’s position to Mars will be the closest we will be for another 15 years. Now getting father away, the planet is still bright in our skies.

Saturn and Jupiter visible

Look for Saturn and Jupiter near each other in the evening sky after sunset. These two will be easiest to spot by facing south and looking up. Jupiter will appear bright with an orange tint. To the left of bright Jupiter will be Saturn. Saturn won’t be quite as bright as it’s neighbor, but still easy to spot. This pair will be next to the moon Thursday, October 22. The two planets will be in our sky and close together for the rest of the year. A very rare occasion, Jupiter and Saturn will be at their closest to each other this December. Because the two move so slowly in our skies, this only happens every 20 years. Jupiter and it’s moon Europa were recently photographed together by the Hubble Space Telescope.

Venus bright in the morning

The planet Venus shines brightly in the early morning sky. Visible about two hours before sunrise, this planet is accompanied by the crescent moon through the middle of the month. Look for it in the eastern sky before and during sunrise.

Orionids Meteor Shower

The Orionids Meteor Shower will peak on the night of Tuesday, Oct 20th. Best viewing will be very early on Wednesday, the 21st. This is a medium-strength shower, so you may need patience while watching. On average, this shower produced 10-20 meteor per hour at peak. The moon will be 23% full on the peak night, not too bright to outshine the dimmer meteors. For viewing, find a dark spot, away from city lights and wait. You don’t have to be looking at a specific point, just look up.

Two Full Moons in October

The month of October will feature 2 full moons. The first will be on October 1st, the Harvest Moon. The first full moon of October will be a micromoon. You’ve likely heard a lot about supermoons, but not a lot about the other extreme. A micromoon occurs when the moon is at its furthest point from the Earth making it look slightly smaller in appearance. It’s a difference of about 31,000 miles between the closest and furthest position. The 2nd will be on October 31st. This will also be a micromoon. When a month has two full moons, the second is called a Blue Moon. This is a rare occurrence. The saying to do something “once in a blue moon” comes from the fact that Blue Moons happen about once every two to three years on average. Certified Meteorologist Mike Grogan spoke with a NASA Scientist in September for International Observe the Moon Night. See what they recommend paying attention to when looking at the Moon.

Supermoon vs Micro Moon
Supermoon vs Micro Moon (NASA/NASA)

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FOX23 Severe WeatherTeam James Aydelott Michael Seger Megan McClellan Laura Mock Michael Grogan