October 2014 Night Photography Events Calendar

Each month I post a monthly night photography events calendar on the first day of the month. Events listed on this calendar are suitable for wide-field and moderate-telephoto astrophotography, as well as for general night photography. Unless otherwise stated, all events occur in the United States at mid-latitudes. Most of the events also occur at other locations, although some of them may require correction for latitude and longitude.

The position of the Moon relative to the planets and stars changes throughout the night. Generally, when a position is given, it is for the period about 45 minutes after sunset or 45 minutes before sunrise. Do not confuse the times of the Moon phases for the times of Moonrise and Moonset. Consult local charts for rise and set times.

For me, October is a great month for night photography. You can still photograph the Milky Way standing high in the sky, although the bright core is sinking below the horizon. Orion now shines for most of the night and October is a great month for viewing the zodiacal light. Halloween is the perfect holiday for night photographers, offering jack-o’-lanterns and all sorts of creatures that go bump in the night.

My favorite thing about October, however, are the cool (but not too cold) nights and increasing hours of darkness. They make the perfect complement to a day spent photographing  autumn colors. And with light painting, you can incorporate the fall foliage in your night shots as well.

This year’s October offers two exciting photo opportunities that don’t occur every year. Don’t miss the total lunar eclipse on the 8th and the partial solar eclipse on the 23rd.

If you sign up for my free Night Photography News eNewsletter, you’ll receive each calendar two weeks early, on the 15th of the preceeding month. This will give you more time to plan your night shooting.

All month This Milky Way shines  high in the sky for most of the night, although the bright “core” section is starting to dip below the horizon.
All month Orion begins its winter rein as the most prominent constellation in the northern hemisphere. It rises around midnight in the East and by sunrise stands high in the in the sky to the South.
All month Mars shines in the dusk twilight sky, looking Southwest. It lies about 15° high at sunset and sets a couple hours later.
All month Jupiter shines in the dawn twilight sky, looking East-Southeast. At the first of the month, it rises around mid-morning in the East-Northeast and around midnight by the end of the month.
First half Saturn joins Mars in the dusk twilight sky. It lies to the lower right of the Red Planet. By mid-month, Saturn is too low on the horizon to be seen in the twilight.
1 First Quarter Moon at 3:33pm.
1 – 6 Look for the zodiacal light in the east before sunrise from dark locations. See this blog post for more information.
8 Full Moon at 6:51am. Don’t forget, in addition to including the Full Moon as a complement to a landscape or urban scene, you can use the light from the Full (or nearly full) Moon to illuminate your scene.
8 A total lunar eclipse occurs in the morning hours for much of North America and nearly all of the continental U.S. For those in the East, totality begins at 6:25am and ends at 7:24am. Sunrise occurs at 7:31am. This means that you’ll be able to photograph the eclipsed Moon in the western dawn sky—a potentially exciting photo op. For those farther west, the Moon will be higher and in a darker sky, but will still provide a great photo op, as does every lunar eclipse.
8 Will the zodiacal light be visible while the Moon is eclipsed? For those in the eastern U.S., the total eclipse begins 66 minutes before sunrise. The brightness of the Moon can vary greatly during an eclipse, but if this one is very dark, the potential exists for seeing the zodiacal light for a few minutes before twilight brightens the sky. I’m making a guess, here, as I have no firsthand experience observing the zodiacal light during a lunar eclipse, nor have I read of anyone else doing so.
15 Third Quarter Moon at 3:12pm.
18 The Crescent Moon shines in the dawn sky, looking Southeast. Jupiter shines above the Moon.
19 The thin Crescent Moon shines in the dawn sky, looking East-Southeast. Jupiter shines to the upper right of the Moon.
20 A very thin Crescent Moon shines in the dawn sky, looking East-Southeast. Jupiter shines to the upper right of the Moon.
20 – 31 Look for the zodiacal light in the east before sunrise from dark locations. See this blog post for more information.
21 A very thin Crescent Moon shines low on the horizon in the dawn sky, looking East-Southeast. Jupiter shines to the upper right of the Moon.
21 The Orionid meteor shower peaks this morning. In good observation conditions, the shower produces about 20 to 25 meteors per hour. This year is ideal, as it will be Moonless nearly all night. The Orionids are active for several days before and after the peak, though in lesser numbers. The shower’s radiant, or the point from which the meteors appear to emerge, is the constellation Orion. Although you can see meteors anywhere in the sky, Orion would make an excellent complementing element in the composition.
22 A sliver-thin Crescent Moon shines very low on the horizon in the dawn sky, looking East-Southeast. Jupiter shines to the upper right of the Moon.
23 New Moon at 5:57pm. Don’t forget, the best time to shoot the stars (as either pinpoints or star trails) is when there is no light pollution from the Moon.
23 A partial solar eclipse occurs over most of North America. Those in the western portion will see all of the event while the Sun is fairly high in the sky. Those in the eastern portion will see the Sun set during the eclipse stage, which will present a terrific photo op. This isn’t a night-photography event, but it should be of interest to most night photographers.
25 A very thin Crescent Moon shines very low on the horizon in the dusk sky, looking West-Southwest. Mars shines to the upper left of the Moon.
26 A  thin Crescent Moon shines low on the horizon in the dusk sky, looking West-Southwest. Mars shines to the upper left of the Moon.
27 The Crescent Moon shines in  the dusk sky, looking Southwest. Mars shines to the left of the Moon.
28 The Crescent Moon shines in  the dusk sky, looking Southwest. Mars shines below the Moon.
31 Halloween (All Hallows’ Eve) is observed in many countries around the world. The holiday is great for night photography, with houses decorated with jack-o’-lanterns and many towns having impressive displays. Bonfires are also a tradition during Halloween. Check with your local cities and towns to see what official events they may have planned. Also, an evening drive around the neighborhood should reveal some good photo ops. Photographing lighted holiday displays, including jack-o’-lanterns and bonfires, often works best during twilight, same as when shooting cityscapes.
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