Dates and times shown are NZDT (UT + 13 hours) Rise and Set times are for Wellington. They will vary by a few minutes elsewhere in NZ. Data is adapted from that shown by GUIDE 9.


THE SUN and PLANETS in OCTOBER 2018, Rise & Set,  Mag. & Cons.
      October  1    NZDT           October 31    NZDT  
      Mag  Cons    Rise    Set     Mag  Cons    Rise    Set
SUN  -26.7  Vir   6.53am  7.28pm  -26.7  Vir   6.07am  8.02pm
Merc  -0.9  Vir   7.15am  8.06pm   -0.2  Sco   7.00am 10.04pm
Venus -4.8  Vir   7.39am 10.30pm   -4.2  Vir   5.20am  7.26pm
Mars  -1.3  Cap   1.47pm  4.49am   -0.6  Cap   1.11pm  3.24am
Jup   -1.8  Lib   8.51am 11.10pm   -1.7  Lib   7.12am  9.43pm
Sat    0.5  Sgr  11.22am  2.25am    0.6  Sgr   9.32am 12.35am
Uran   5.7  Ari   9.14pm  8.01am    5.7  Ari   7.10pm  6.05am
Nep    7.8  Aqr   5.15pm  6.13am    7.8  Aqr   3.14pm  4.14am
Pluto 14.4  Sgr  12.41pm  3.30am   14.5  Sgr  10.36am  1.33am

          October  1  NZDT         October 30  NZDT
Twilights    morning     evening        morning     evening
Civil:    start 6.28am, end 7.54pm   start 5.40am, end 8.30pm
Nautical: start 5.55am, end 8.27pm   start 5.04am, end 9.06pm
Astro:    start 5.22am, end 9.00pm   start 4.25am, end 9.45pm

  Last quarter   October  2 at 10.45pm (09:45 UT)
  New moon:      October  9 at  4.47pm (03:47 UT)
  First quarter: October 17 at  7.02am (Oct 16, 18:02 UT)
  Full Moon:     October 25 at  5.45am (Oct 24, 16:45 UT)
  Last quarter   November 1 at  5.40am (Oct 31, 16:40 UT)


COMET GIACONINI-ZINNER, P21, having been a northern object, moves further south in October. It will largely be a morning object. Giaconini-Zinner has been described as a "green" comet, it should be a binocular object in the first part of October.

On the 1st it rises about 1.30 am with a magnitude 8.4 and is in Monoceros. It moves into Canis Major on the 10th and will be closest to Sirius mid month, when it will rise just before midnight, magnitude 9.2. At its closest, P21 will be about 6° from Sirius. By the end of October the comet will be in the southeast corner of Canis Major between delta CMa, mag 1.8 and eta CMa mag 2.5. P21 will then rise at about 10 pm and have a magnitude 10.3.

PLANETS in October 2018.

MERCURY is an evening object during October. On the 1st it sets 38 minutes after the Sun, too close for observation. The planet's visibility improves during the month: it sets 2 hours after the Sun on the 31st. Proximity to Jupiter will help locate Mercury, at their closest the two are just over 3° apart on the 29th. That evening at 9pm, an hour after sunset, Mercury will be to the left and slightly higher than Jupiter. The two will be rather low, Mercury at 9°. Jupiter a degree lower. On the 31st Mercury will be a degree higher and Jupiter a degree lower at the same time.

VENUS, as an evening object, starts the month setting 3 hours after the Sun, so is still easily visible. Venus is stationary on the 5th after which it starts closing in on the Sun. Inferior conjunction is on the 27th (NZDT) when the planet passes 6° south of the Sun. At conjunction Venus will be 0.72 AU, 108 million km from the Sun and 0.27 AU, 41 million km from the Earth. As "seen" from the Earth Venus will be 6° south of the Sun at its closest.

After conjunction Venus will become a morning object and move rapidly into the morning sky. By the 31st it will rise 47 minutes before the Sun.

MARS, in Capricornus, sets well after midnight during October, so is still well placed in the evening sky. It fades a little during the month, by will still be a bright object high in the evening sky. The moon, two days after 1st quarter, is 2.5° from Mars on the 18th.

JUPITER is an early evening object in Libra. By the end of the month it sets 100 minutes after the Sun so will be low by the time the sky darkens. As noted above, Mercury moves past Jupiter towards the end of October, the two being closest on the 29th.

The moon is closest to Jupiter on the evening of October 12 in NZ. At 9 pm the crescent moon will be 5.5° to the right of and a little higher than the planet.

SATURN continues to move through Sagittarius during October. On the evening of the 15th the moon, one day short of first quarter, will be 3° to the right of the planet at 9 pm.

URANUS, in Aries, rises at 10.14pm on the 1st and two hours earlier, nearly an hour before sunset, on the 31st. The planet is at opposition on the 24th when it will be 18.9 AU, 2.8 billion km from the Earth and 19.8 AU from the Sun. About 16 hours later, on the morning of the October 25, the full moon will be 3.5° above the planet.

NEPTUNE is an evening object in Aquarius during October, rising several hours before sunset. The 89% lit moon is some 5° from Neptune mid evening on the 21st, with Neptune to the moon's upper left.

PLUTO, in Sagittarius is closest to the moon at first quarter on the evening of the 16th, when the planet will be 1.5° to the upper left of the moon as seen from New Zealand.


BRIGHTEST ASTEROIDS in OCTOBER, magnitude, constellation, time of transit

             OCTOBER 1    NZDT      OCTOBER 31   NZDT  
             Mag  Cons   transit    Mag  Cons   transit
(1)  Ceres   8.6   Vir    1.35pm    8.7   Vir   12.22pm
(2)  Pallas  9.0   Sex   11.26am    9.1   Vir   10.25am
(3)  Juno    8.3   Tau    4.44am    7.6   Eri    2.47am
(4)  Vesta   7.5   Sgr    7.00pm    7.8   Sgr    5.54pm
(6)  Hebe    9.6   Mon    7.07am    9.3   Mon    5.34am

CERES is at conjunction with the Sun on October 8, so will not be observable in October.

PALLAS, a morning object starts October in Sextans rising about 100 minutes before the Sun. It moves into Leo on the 5th and into Virgo on the 29th.

JUNO rises about 11 pm on the 1st and 8.40 pm on the 31st. It moves from Taurus to Eridanus on the 25th. By the end of the month it is the brightest asteroid.

VESTA, largely an evening object, sets at 2.45 am at the beginning of the month and at the 1.34 am by the end.

HEBE rises at 1.30 am on the 1st and 11.45 pm on the 31st. On the 1st morning of October the asteroid will about 7.6° from the comet Giaconini-Zinner, 21P, which is likely to have a total magnitude about 8.3.

Brian Loader


Go to top