October is set to be a brilliant month for sky watchers on Dartmoor with the blood moon and two meteor showers including one radiating from the ancient constellation Draco.
There will also be a chance to view some of the most spectacular planets in our solar system, with opportune viewing conditions. With so much to see this month, we have created this comprehensive guide to everything that will be happening in the skies, to make sure that you don’t miss a thing.
If you are heading out, the best way to view any of the sky events is usually in the early hours after midnight. Head to one of Dartmoor’s amazing dark sky areas, away from the light pollution of towns and villages and be patient.
October 8: The Draconids Meteor Shower
On the night of Sunday October 8, comets will rain from the skies from the Draco Constellation. The Draco Constellation, which is one of the largest constellations in the sky got its name from the Latin word meaning dragon. The group of stars were reportedly named after an ancient dragon called Ladon, which was said in Greek mythology to have guarded the gardens of the Herperides.
October 8: See Mercury at its brightest
Sunday October 8 will give avid sky-watchers across Dartmoor a great chance to observe the smallest planet in the solar system, Mercury, at its brightest point. The planet, which is the closest to the sun, will appear quite close to the sun, and can often get lost in the suns light. But at its brightest point Mercury should be visible.
October 19: Uranus at its closest
On Thursday October 19, Uranus will be at its closest to the Earth. The opposition of the blue-green planet comes at the same time of the new moon, meaning that the skies will be dark and viewing opportunities will be at their optimum. As well as being at its closest to Earth, the face of the planet will also be fully illuminated by the sun, which means that it will also be brighter than any other time of the year. The planet will be able to be seen all night long, but because of how far away it is, it will only appear in the sky as a tiny blue-green dot.
October 21: Orionids Meteor Shower
The Orionids Meteor Shower has been described as one of the best meteor showers to view. The meteors in the shower are some of the brightest and fastest that you will ever see. The meteors appear so vividly because the Earth comes into collision with a stream of particles left behind by the iconic and ancient Halley’s Comet, at an angle almost head on. The infamous comet passes the Earth every 75 years or so and has been observed for centuries.