Weymouth Astronomy

The Planets - October 2017

Observing the planets can be extremely rewarding. Everyone remembers the first time they observed Saturn and it's rings or the gas giant Jupiter and it's Galillean Moons. Solar System


Mercury, the innermost planet passes between us and the Sun (Superior conjunction) on October 8th so will not be visible this month. It will become visible after sunset during the latter part of November.


Venus is now moving back towards the Sun and is visible in the east before dawn this month rising around 2 hours before sunrise at the start of the month and close to Mars. By month's end Venus rises an hour and a half before the Sun and binoculars might be needed to spot it low above the eastern horizon but please take care if using optical equipment after the Sun has risen.


Mars has now become a morning object at the start of its new apparition. Initially lying in Leo it moves into Virgo on the 12th of the month and is still not easily seen in the pre dawn sky. As the month progresses Mars rises higher in the sky before dawn and flirts with Venus at the beginning of the month.


Jupiter might just be visible for the first few days of October very low above the west southwestern horizon after sunset. It passes behind the Sun on October 26th to become visible again in the pre dawn sky during mid November.


Saturn can be seen low in the southwest during twilight this month dropping down towards the horizon a little more each week. Shining at magnitude +0.5 it sets around 3 hours after the Sun on the 1st but nearer 2 hours by month end. It is moving slowly eastwards in Ophiuchus moving closer to the boundary of Sagittarius which it will reach on the 18th of November.

Information collated from Jodrell Bank and Astronomy Now magazine