Orinids Meteor Shower 2017

   The Orionid Meteor shower reaches its peak on the morning of Saturday October 21st. Best viewing is looking toward the east to south part of the sky after midnight and before sunrise. Look for the stars of Orion – most find Orion from the 3 bright stars forming his belt. Look to the left from the belt stars for the bright reddish-orange star Betelgeuse (often pronounced ‘beetle juice’) that represents Orion’s right shoulder. A little further to the left from Betelgeuse is the radiant, the area where the meteors or shooting stars will seem to be radiating outward from.
   All annular meteor showers, like Orionids, and the more well-known August Perseids, are named for the constellation the radiant is located within. Meteor showers are the result of several factors including the reaction between the comet’s dirty, icy surface with the Sun’s radiant energy and the orbital path the Earth and comets follow around the Sun. All comets leave behind clumps or clouds of comet debris, their surface material, as they come closer to the Sun’s heat energy. Some of this comet debris is left along the Earth’s orbital path such that the Earth regularly passes through these debris clouds. As the Earth passes through the debris the small bits of rock enter the Earth’s atmosphere and as they heat from friction and melt they glow briefly appearing as streaks of light. Some meteors leave a bright glowing trail, called a train, for a few moments. The Orionids average around 20 meteors per hour, however this year estimates are that that number may go up to as many as 60 per hour.
   How the number per hour can increase is based on the debris cloud and where the Earth passes through it. The debris is cloud-like in its shape and there are parts of the ‘cloud’ where the particles are more numerous – the thicker parts of the debris cloud. Meteor showers, like the Earth’s orbit are pretty well known so part of the equation for determining the number per hour is based on knowing what part of the debris cloud the Earth will pass through. This year we apparently pass through a thicker part of the debris cloud.
   Hang on to your hat!

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

The Moon and Venus

   Yesterday morning and this morning offered me an opportunity for getting some pictures of the thin waning crescent Moon as it rose, more or less, over Highway 50. Given the amount of wasted illumination going skyward this is at best not a dark viewing site! However for bright objects rising in the east the bright lights of car dealerships, and oncoming car headlights provide for an interesting foreground. Yesterday there were low-lying clouds above the horizon making it a waiting game for when Venus and the Moon were visible. I won!
   This morning the skies were very clear and I was able to get a picture of the 28.25-day old waning crescent Moon. New Moon is tomorrow 20 October at 2:12 pm CDT.
   That ‘dash’ you might have noticed to the left from Venus in yesterday’s picture were the lights from an airplane. This picture like the one today were shot with a 2-second exposure time. So the dash represents how much the plane moved in 2 seconds. And if you look carefully at this morning’s picture you will see 3rd magnitude Zaniah near -3.93 magnitude Venus, and 3rd magnitude Porrima near the Moon.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

Uranus at Opposition

view-from-uranus
   Thursday October 19th the outer planet Uranus reaches a position in its orbit around the Sun when it is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun. This coincidentally is known as opposition, and it is an orbital position which only the planets further from the Sun than the Earth may reach.

   At opposition the outer planet rises and sets in a fashion similar to our Moon when it is at full phase, in that the outer planet at opposition rises at sunset and sets at sunrise.

   On Thursday the outer planet Uranus will be several degrees from an even more outer planet, Dwarf Planet Eris. Both rise during the evening hours and are over the southwestern horizon before sunrise.

   
   
   
   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

Old Moon and Venus


   Wednesday morning October 18th the thin 28-day old waning crescent Moon will be within a few degrees from the inner planet Venus. Should make for an interesting view with the naked eye or in the field of view of binoculars.
   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

Ceres Gets Buzzed

   Tuesday morning October 17th the Dwarf Planet Ceres will be within about 3o from M-44, the open star cluster commonly known as the Beehive Cluster. Both will easily fit within the field of view of binoculars and with some careful observation Ceres at 8th magnitude might be identified just to the left from M-44 which appears as a 4th magnitude ‘smudge’ of light.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

Moon in Conjunction With Mars


   Tuesday morning October 17th the thin 27.25-day old waning crescent Moon will be about 2o from the planet Mars and about 5o from the inner planet Venus. All three will fit within the field of view of 7×50 binoculars and should make for an interesting view.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

Moon – Regulus Conjunction


   Sunday morning October 15th the 25-day old waning crescent Moon will be less than 0.5o from the star Regulus in Leo the Lion. This should make for a great view with binoculars or a low-power telescope eyepiece.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.