Here are the Moon phases in the Northern hemisphere for October 2010 and other interesting things of note in the sky.
1st October: Last Quarter
7th October: New Moon
14th October: First Quarter
23rd October: Full Moon
30th October: Last Quarter
Comet Hartley should be visible to the unaided eye around October 20th, and certainly with binoculars or a telescope, given fair weather and some dark skies. This comet was discovered in 1986 by an Australian astronomer called Malcolm Hartley and this year it makes its closest approach to Earth since then… although it’ll still be more than 17.7 million kilometers away from us! It takes around 6.46 years for this ‘dirty snowball’ to orbit the Sun.
To spot the comet, find the constellation of Auriga which is home to the bright star Capella. As you can see from the image below, looking Eastwards from around 11pm in the UK, you’ll see Auriga above Orion and to the left of Taurus.
Interestingly, this comet is a prime target for Deep Impact, a NASA mission that should get within 1000 kilometers of Hartley to take some close-up images of its surface to help us better understand the composition and origin of these objects.
Check out the Top 5 Winter Night Sky Objects
Discover the constellation of Orion.