Celestial Events: October 2019
October’s Celestial Events Have Sky Gazers In for a Treat
The crisp, clear nights of October are full of celestial events for the novice to expert sky gazer. The moon will be in a waxing crescent on October 1 making for optimal viewing conditions. As the month progresses, the moon will grow brighter. It is recommended to have a pair of binoculars to get the most of this month’s night sky and stellar showpieces.
October 1: Optimal Viewing of the Andromeda Galaxy
The Andromeda Galaxy (also known as M31) will be visible in the northeastern sky. M31 is the most distant object (2 million light years away) that can be seen with the naked eye. Without binoculars, the galaxy appears as a smudge of clouds almost as big as the full moon. The easiest way to find this cluster of stars and dust is to use the constellation Cassiopeia and Pegasus as a guide.
October 9: Draconid Meteor Shower
As we near the middle of October, the Draconid meteor shower will make an appearance. Keep in mind, the moon will be close to being full. It is expected to see up to 10 meteors per hour. Aim your gaze toward the Draco constellation and if the night is clear, it will be worth it.
October 13: Hunter’s Full Moon
The Hunter’s moon will rise over the horizon around sunset making it look larger than usual. Typically, the moon rises about 50 minutes after sunrise. As we get closer to the autumnal equinox (September 23), the moon rises just 30 minutes after sunrise. This closeness in time has to do with the ecliptic (narrow) angle with the evening horizon. Expect to see a bright and full-looking moon to appear for several days after the 13th.
October 21: Orionid Meteor Shower
The Orionid meteor shower provides up to 25 to 30 meteorites per hour. Look for the constellation, Orion, in the eastern sky. The moon will be bright, but will be positioned in the southern sky which will make this stellar sky event easier on the eyes. Allow your eyes to adjust for 20 minutes. The best time to view this popular meteor shower is between 3:30 to 5 AM.
Oct 31: Jupiter Near Moon on Halloween
On the night of Halloween, skygazers will be in for a treat. Jupiter will be closest to our moon. Fortunately, the moon will be just four days old. The young crescent moon provides optimal viewing for one of the biggest and brightest luminaries in our night sky.