Tag Archives: Orionids

NASA Space Place – Observe The Moon

Poster’s Note: One of the many under-appreciated aspects of NASA is the extent to which it publishes quality science content for children and Ph.D.’s alike. NASA Space Place has been providing general audience articles for quite some time that are freely available for download and republishing. Your tax dollars help promote science! The following article was provided for reprinting in October, 2018.

By Jane Houston Jones and Jessica Stoller-Conrad

2013february2_spaceplaceThis year’s International Observe the Moon Night is on Oct. 20. Look for astronomy clubs and science centers in your area inviting you to view the Moon at their star parties that evening!

On Oct. 20, the 11-day-old waxing gibbous Moon will rise in the late afternoon and set before dawn. Sunlight will reveal most of the lunar surface and the Moon will be visible all night long. You can observe the Moon’s features whether you’re observing with the unaided eye, through binoculars or through a telescope.

Here are a few of the Moon’s features you might spot on the evening of October 20:

Sinus Iridum — Latin for “Bay of Rainbows” — is the little half circle visible on the western side of the Moon near the lunar terminator—the line between light and dark. Another feature, the Jura Mountains, ring the Moon’s western edge. You can see them catch the morning Sun.

Just south of the Sinus Iridum you can see a large, flat plain called the Mare Imbrium. This feature is called a mare — Latin for “sea” — because early astronomers mistook it for a sea on Moon’s surface. Because the Moon will be approaching full, the large craters Copernicus and Tycho will also take center stage.

Copernicus is 58 miles (93 kilometers) across. Although its impact crater rays—seen as lines leading out from the crater—will be much more visible at Full Moon, you will still be able to see them on October 20. Tycho, on the other hand, lies in a field of craters near the southern edge of the visible surface of the Moon. At 53 miles (85 kilometers) across, it’s a little smaller than Copernicus. However, its massive ray system spans more than 932 miles (1500 kilometers)!

And if you’re very observant on the 20th, you’ll be able to check off all six of the Apollo lunar landing site locations, too!

In addition to the Moon, we’ll be able to observe two meteor showers this month: the Orionids and the Southern Taurids. Although both will have low rates of meteors, they’ll be visible in the same part of the sky.

The Orionids peak on Oct. 21, but they are active from Oct. 16 to Oct. 30. Start looking at about 10 p.m. and you can continue to look until 5 a.m. With the bright moonlight you may see only five to 10 swift and faint Orionids per hour.

If you see a slow, bright meteor, that’s from the Taurid meteor shower. The Taurids radiate from the nearby constellation Taurus, the Bull. Taurids are active from Sept. 10 through Nov. 20, so you may see both a slow Taurid and a fast Orionid piercing your sky this month. You’ll be lucky to see five Taurids per hour on the peak night of Oct. 10.

You can also still catch the great lineup of bright planets in October, with Jupiter, Saturn and Mars lining up with the Moon again this month. And early birds can even catch Venus just before dawn!

You can find out more about International Observe the Moon Night at moon.nasa.gov/observe.

Caption: This image shows some of the features you might see if you closely observe the Moon. The stars represent the six Apollo landing sites on the Moon. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University (modified by NASA/JPL-Caltech)

About NASA Space Place

With articles, activities, crafts, games, and lesson plans, NASA Space Place encourages everyone to get excited about science and technology. Visit spaceplace.nasa.gov (facebook|twitter) to explore space and Earth science!

“Upstate NY Stargazing In October” Article Posted To newyorkupstate.com And syracuse.com

Greetings, fellow astrophiles!

The latest article in the Upstate NY Stargazing series, “Upstate NY stargazing in October: The Orionids, International Observe the Moon Night,” has just been posted to newyorkupstate.com and syracuse.com.

Direct Links: newyorkupstate.com and syracuse.com

* Included this month are a reminder/announcement about Kopernik AstroFest 2017 (Oct. 13/14), International Observe the Moon Night on October 28th, and the Orionids:

The Orionids are the most prominent meteor shower in October, but ride near the bottom of the top-10 list of active showers for the year. Observers simply interested in seeing any shooting stars do benefit from the Orionids peaking at a time of year when a number of less significant meteor showers are also active, including one of the Geminids and two Taurids showers. This year, the grouping of active showers around the Orionids peak benefit greatly from the absence of the Moon during the 20th-21st peak.

* With Orion out and about at a reasonable hour, the Orion-star-finder has been brought back from the UNY Stargazing archives:

Caption:Orion can guide you around its neighborhood. Red = belt stars to Sirius and Canis Major; Orange = Rigel and belt center to Castor and Pollux in Gemini; Yellow = Bellatrix and Betelgeuse to Canis Major; Green = Belt stars to Aldebaran and Taurus; Blue = Saiph and Orion’s head to Capella in Auriga. Click for a larger view.

* The pre-sunrise mornings continue to provide excellent planetary viewing of Mars and Venus, with several notable arrangements occurring this month:

Caption:The prominent planetary groupings in the morning sky this month. Click for a larger view.

* And, finally, we finish up the circumpolar constellations with Camelopardalis before going briefly into what circumpolar constellations are in the November article:

Caption: Camelopardalis and its more prominent neighbors. (Image made with Stellarium)

A Busy Week – Comet Siding Spring On The 19th, Orionids On The 21st, Partial Solar Eclipse On The 23rd, Kopernik AstroFest On The 24th & 25th

Greetings Fellow astrophiles!

Several upcoming events of note – three of which depend on the weather, one of which is a go either way.

1. October 19th – CNYO @ Happy Valley For Comet Siding Spring

NOTE: Please contact us at info@cnyo.org, on our Contact Page, or on the Facebook Page about the event. This is event is weather-permitting and is a one-time event (no rescheduling)! Keep track of this website for updates on the 19th.

2014oct16_marscometComet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring is going to side-swipe Mars at 2:27 p.m. Eastern time at a distance 1/3 that of the Earth-Moon distance. That’s an astronomical close-call by all metrics! That’s close enough that NASA has reportedly taken steps to protect its robot fleet in Mars’ orbit.

Now, this is a rare and special event, but we’re going to miss the closest-approach by several hours (waiting for sunset at 6:15 p.m., that is, then the additional wait for the sky to get darker). The view of Mars and Siding Spring through a single eyepiece should be great, but it’s going to require a dark, dark location to see them both well. To accommodate this, Ryan Goodson will be leading a session at Happy Valley outside of Parish, NY.

Yes, THAT Happy Valley.

Odd history aside, this is a dark sky location if ever there was one in CNY. If you’ve interest in attending, we ask that you contact us via the methods listed above for directions and so we can get a head count. Mars will set around 9:00 p.m., so this session with the drive North should still get you home by 10 p.m. (Unless you decide to stick around for some additional observing).

2. Orionid Meteor Shower, Peaking The Morning Of October 21st

2014oct16_orionid_radiantThe constellation Orion is appearing earlier every evening, marking the beginning of the winter observing session (and return of some of the best objects the Night Sky has to offer the well-insulated amateur astronomer). Those staying up late (or waking up extra-early) will be treated to the first spectacle Orion has to offer in the form of the Orionids, which peak early Tuesday morning. This shower isn’t known for quantity (10 to 25/hour) but has been known for some particularly brilliant shooters. This is also a chance for those who’ve never seen Halley’s Comet to say they’ve at least seen a teeny, tiny piece of it, as this comet’s debris field is the feeder for this late-fall shower.

As with all meteor showers, dark skies = better skies. As for observing the shower itself, your best bet is to lie down with your feet pointed at Orion, then wait (patiently) as the shooters shoot over your feet and towards your head.

3. Partial Solar Eclipse, At Sunset On October 23rd

NOTE: This event is weather-permitting and can’t be rescheduled! Keep track of this website for updates on the 23rd.

We had a limited glimpse of the recent total lunar eclipse just a few weeks ago, now have a chance to see the tables turned in the form of a partial solar eclipse. This will be a small clipping of the Sun by the New Moon and will happen VERY close to sunset – close enough that we’ll miss most of the eclipse when the Sun sets below the Western horizon. Because of that, we’re still looking for an observing location that’s up high and with a low horizon. Our plan right now is to meet at the parking lot next to the Onondaga Lake Inner Harbor Amphitheater (where we ran our first-ever CNYO session) but we’re also considering the southern end of the Onondaga Lake Parkway. We will make final decision in the next few days.

2014oct16_patia_solar_eclipse

We’ll have about 25 minutes (5:44 to 6:09) of partial solar eclipse if the skies hold and the horizon’s low. More details (like location) to follow as we finalize event details.

4. Kopernik AstroFest 2014, October 24th & 25th

Our friends (and, for some of us, fellow members) of the Kopernik Astronomical Society are getting ready to host their annual AstroFest, always one of the very best events of its kind in New York. Having already posted the official announcement on cnyo.org, I’ll leave you to the Kopernik AstroFest website to learn more about the Friday/Saturday festivities. Several of us are still planning on attending both days of the event and are willing to carpool down. Please drop a line to info@cnyo.org or our Facebook Page for arrangements.