“Ring of Fire” Eclipse of the Sun + Moon, Jupiter, Saturn and Venus

October 2023 offers celestial delight with a remarkable “Ring of Fire” solar eclipse, captivating planetary alignments, and NASA’s launch of the Psyche mission to explore a unique asteroid.

What are some of the highlights of skywatching in October 2023?

The “Ring of Fire” solar eclipse across the Americas on October 14 is one of the highlights of the month! In addition to the moon, Jupiter, SaturnAnd Venus Create some beautiful poses for stargazers and planet watchers to enjoy.

What are you looking for:

Partial solar eclipse! Viewers in a narrow area across the Americas will enjoy a “ring of fire” solar eclipse on October 14, while the moon and planets appear in some dazzling positions in the October sky.

Skywatching highlights for October:

  • October 2 – The moon rises two hours after sunset, and appears very close to the Pleiades star cluster. Look for them low in the east after about 10 p.m., then they will travel across the sky together throughout the night.
  • October 3 – In the dawn sky, the moon appears just a few fingers from the Pleiades. Look for it high in the southwest, flanked by Jupiter and the bright red giant star Aldebaran in Taurus
  • October 10 – On October 10, look for Venus in the east before sunrise, accompanied by a thin crescent. Between them, discover the bright heart of Leo, the bluish-white star Regulus.
  • October 14 – Annular solar eclipse – Along a path about 125 miles wide, the sun will appear as a narrow ring of light, often called the “ring of fire.”
    • The path of this partial eclipse passes through the Americas, starting in southern Canada and passing through the western United States, before moving through Central and South America.
    • Outside the path of the annular eclipse, people in the viewing area will still see a partial eclipse.
    • The maximum amount of sun the moon will cover depends on your location.
  • October 14 – new Moon
  • October 23 – Look south an hour or two after sunset to find the Moon about 70% illuminated, hanging directly below the planet Saturn. Their proximity to the sky will make these two favorite sky observing favorites easy to see through a telescope.
  • October 24 – Look for the moon hanging east of Saturn tonight.
  • October 28 – Full Moon – The full moon rises with Jupiter tonight. These are two of the brightest objects in the sky, and seeing them so close makes for an impressive sight.
Sky chart of the Pleiades moon star cluster October 2023

A sky chart showing the Moon appearing very close to the Pleiades star cluster on the night of October 2. Image source: NASA

Video version

What’s new in October? Some wonderful conjunctions between the Moon and the planet, a mission to a mineral-rich world, and a partial solar eclipse.

On October 2, the moon will rise two hours after sunset, appearing very close to the Pleiades star cluster. Look for them low in the east after about 10 p.m. They travel across the sky together that night, leaving another chance to see them the next morning. In the dawn sky on October 3, the moon appears a few fingers away from the Pleiades, having moved slightly in its orbit around the Earth during the night. Look for it in the high southwest, flanked by Jupiter and the bright red giant star Aldebaran in Taurus.

On October 10, look for Venus in the east before sunrise, accompanied by a thin crescent moon. Between them is the bright Leoheart, the bluish-white star Regulus.

On October 23, look south an hour or two after sunset to find the Moon about 70% illuminated, hanging just below Saturn. Their proximity to the sky will make these two favorite sky observing favorites easy to see through a telescope. The next evening, the moon will still be close, having moved to the east of Saturn.

Moon Saturn October 2023 sky chart

A sky chart shows the Moon hanging below Saturn in the night sky on October 23. Image source: NASA

The full moon on October 28 rises with Jupiter. These are two of the brightest objects in the sky, and seeing them so close makes for an impressive sight.

When you look at Venus, MarsOr Mercury (or even the ground beneath your feet), have you ever wondered how these planets formed from stardust? This is how planetary scientists think too. And this month, NASALaunching a spacecraft to search for new insights into how “terrestrial” planets evolve. NASA’s Psyche spacecraft is scheduled to launch in October on its multi-year journey to an asteroid of the same name. It’s the first mission to a metal-rich asteroid, which could form part of the interior of a young planet — a building block for a rocky planet.

The asteroid Psyche could also turn out to be a different type of iron-rich object that has never been seen before. Whatever its story, it is hoped the mission will show us how Earth’s core and the cores of other terrestrial planets came to be.

On October 14, skywatchers in the Americas will have the opportunity to see a special type of solar eclipse called an annular eclipse. Along a path about 125 miles wide, the sun will appear as a narrow ring of light, often called the “ring of fire.” This narrow circular shape is also known as a ring, giving this type of eclipse its name.

Path of annular solar eclipse october 2023 usa map

A map of the United States showing the path of the annular solar eclipse on October 14, 2023. Within the annular path, the Sun appears as a narrow ring of light at the peak of the eclipse. Outside the annular path, observers will see a partial eclipse. The maximum amount of sun that the moon will cover depends on the observing location. The lines on the map indicate the percentage of the Sun that is obscured by the Moon at the peak of the eclipse. Image source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon lies between the Earth and the sun, covering at least part of the sun in the sky. When the Moon completely covers the Sun, we see a total eclipse. But sometimes the moon is a little farther away in its orbit when an eclipse occurs, making it appear a little smaller in the sky, a little too small to completely cover the sun. When this happens, we can see the annular eclipse.

The path of this partial eclipse passes through the Americas, starting in southern Canada and passing through the western United States, before moving through Central and South America. Outside the path of the annular eclipse, people in the viewing area will still see a partial eclipse. The maximum amount of sun the moon will cover depends on your location.

Now, Eclipse fans won’t have to wait long for more excitement. Next April, a total solar eclipse will sweep across the United States. Check out NASA’s online eclipse resources for information about both eclipses, where they will be visible, and tips for safe viewing.

Below are the moon phases for October.

Moon phases October 2023

Moon phases for October 2023. Image source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

See also  The mysterious Hypatia stone may hold the earliest evidence of a Type Ia . supernova

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *