Even though October is known more for its colorful foliage and Halloween treats than shooting stars, two upcoming meteor showers will be adding some glitter to the autumn sky.
The annual Draconid meteor shower is scheduled to reach its peak this week, and the Orionid meteor shower will be at its best later this month. Here’s what you need to know about the timing and intensity of these two October meteor showers.
Peak period: Friday evening, Oct. 8, into early Saturday morning, Oct. 9, 2021.
Intensity: Five to 10 meteors per hour. While that number is low compared to many other meteor showers, astronomy experts at EarthSky.org say the Draconids occasionally can become highly active, with dozens of shooting stars each hour.
Fun fact: Most meteor showers look their best in the pre-dawn hours, when most earthlings are sleeping. But astronomers say the best viewing of the Draconid meter shower is typically in the nighttime hours shortly after sunset.
Name origin: The Draconid meteor shower got its name because its radiant point “almost coincides with the head of the constellation Draco the Dragon in the northern sky,” according to EarthSky. “That’s why the Draconids are best viewed from the northern hemisphere.”
Peak period: Wednesday night, Oct. 20, into early Thursday morning, Oct. 21, 2021.
Intensity: This shower usually produces about 20 meteors per hour. However, “this year’s viewing will be hindered due to the brightness of the moon,” AccuWeather notes. “The nearly full moon will be shining all night long, making it difficult to see the dimmer shooting stars.”
Fun fact: The Orionids are actually tiny pieces of dust and rock particles left behind by the famous Halley’s comet. Around this time each year, the Earth passes through the comet’s field of debris, allowing us to see these shooting stars.
Name origin: The Orionid meteor shower got its name from the constellation Orion, from which these shooting stars originate. Although these meteors will shoot out from that area of the sky, experts say if you look up at any part of the sky you should be able to see some shooting stars from almost any direction. (As usual, it’s best to find a dark location as far away as possible from bright city lights and street lights.)
Two meteor showers will be peaking in October.Pixabay
Another October sky treat
If you look up in the sky on Thursday night, Oct. 14, the moon will appear almost in the middle of Jupiter and Saturn, according to astronomy experts at AccuWeather.
“The trio of celestial objects will be easy to spot in the southern sky right after nightfall on Oct. 14 with the three glowing together almost all night long,” the weather forecasting company says. “No telescope is required to see the planets, but this will be a great chance to zoom in on Jupiter and Saturn with a telescope before the cold winter nights arrive.”
If you look in the southern sky on Thursday night, Oct. 14, the moon will appear almost in the middle of Jupiter and Saturn.AccuWeather
October full moon
Last year, because of the lunar cycle’s timing, we had a special treat during the Halloween season — two full moons in October, including one on Oct. 31, which was considered to be a rare Halloween “blue moon.”
But this year, things will return to normal, with just one full moon in October. The so-called “hunter’s moon” will be shining at its fullest phase at 10:57 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021.
The final full moons of the year will appear on Nov. 19 and Dec. 18.
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Len Melisurgo may be reached at [email protected].