After Hours

October 2011 sky calendar for the Northern Hemisphere

If you plan to do some stargazing this month, this handy guide highlights what to expect when you look to the night sky.

The cool night air draws people outside in October in the Northern Hemisphere. It is time for bonfires, cider, and stargazing. Even if you're in a city, you can view amazing celestial events on clear October nights.

These are some notable astronomical events and happenings this month:

I compiled the following calendar to help Geekend readers know what to expect this month when heading outdoors for some backyard stargazing. I also recommend downloading the Google Sky Map app for Android and the iPhone -- it makes sense of the night sky for you.

  • October 7-8: Draco is expected to spout a bright burst of Draconid meteors on these two evenings. Viewers in Europe have the best chance of getting a glimpse of the brightest of the Draconid meteors.
  • October 8 is International Observe the Moon Night. Check out the website to find an event near you, or just plan an outdoor nighttime picnic and bask in the glow of the sun's rays as reflected by the moon.
  • October 11: The full moon will be visible.
  • October 20-21: Plan to view the Orionid meteor shower on October 20 and 21. Orient your view at Betelgeuse in the early pre-dawn hours to catch this fast-moving meteor show.
  • October 26: The new moon comes around again.
  • October 28: The crescent Moon will set in the southwest just after sunset. In a particularly spectacular show, Venus will be brightly lit just to the Moon's lower right. Once you find Venus, look just below it to see Mercury.
  • October 29: Earth and Jupiter will experience a special event on this day; Earth will pass immediately between Jupiter and the sun. This "opposition" is particularly spectacular because Jupiter will be visible all night in the Northern Hemisphere, rising at dusk in the east, and setting at dawn in the west.

Will you view the night skies this month? If so, did you see lo cast a dot of a shadow across Jupiter on October 4, 2011? Do you use special equipment like telescopes and binoculars, or do you prefer to take in the universe with the naked eye? Share your stargazing tips in the discussion.

Also read: Astrophotography: The ultimate geek hobby.


Nicole Bremer Nash is Director of Content and Social Media for HuTerra, where she uses SEO and social media to promote charitable organizations in their community-building and fundraising efforts. She enjoys volunteering, arts and crafts, and conduct...


Not sure if there is an iPhone version but you can download Google's Sky Map for an Android. Much easy to use than star charts IMHO

CharlieSpencer Updated on Tuesdays with a look at the celestial events for the coming week. This is the time of year when it's still warm enough for me to walk at 0530 but dark enough to do a bit of naked eye stargazing. I usually forget about meteor showers until I catch a glimpse of one, then make the usual misplace mental note to set a reminder.


The tech approach is great, but a handy monthly star chart printout is hard to beat. They both serve their purposes. Check out for monthly charts of the North and South hemispheres and also the middle latitude regions. It's a great resource.


Doesn't looking at a lighted display degrade your night vision?


I use Sky Safari app with Orion's StarSeek wireless controller connected to my goto telescopes to track objects with the Iphone. Works great and you can select a low light emitting red screen setting. Just point the phone to the oject in the sky and select the object showing on the screen and then click on the telecope icon to locate and track with the telescope. Saves a lot of time for observing instead of hunting.

Editor's Picks