Space Talk w/Bradley: Your October 2021 night sky guide

Science

(WVNS) — Stormtracker 59 Meteorologist Bradley Wells is back with another look at the upcoming celestial events that will delight our region all month long. With the month of October upon us, those of us in the two Virginia’s will be treated to two dazzling meteor showers, planetary alignments, and the Hunter Moon! Remember to bookmark this page so you and your family can enjoy all the October night skies have to offer.

OCTOBER 6TH- NEW MOON & INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION: NAKED EYE EVENT For those looking for the darkest sky for the best sky watching, the night of the New Moon is a great night. Without the moonlight to interfere, telescope users can look farther into space to find the faintest of objects. The dark sky will help skywatchers find the International Space Station as it passes over the two Virginia’s this night. It will look like a slow-moving star starting at 7:53 pm in the northwest sky traveling for 6 minutes nearly overhead.



OCTOBER 8TH- DRACONIDS METEOR SHOWER: NAKED EYE EVENT The Draconids are named for the constellation Dracon the Dragon in the Northwest sky. This is the constellation the meteors seem to radiant from. The Draconids were once the most astounding meteor showers throughout recorded history but as recently as 2011, have diminished in activity. Viewers can still expect the peak on the night of October 8th to yield up to 10 meteors per hour from 7 pm until 2 am. The darker your sky, the better your chance of seeing this meteor shower. The New Moon this year will help make the Draconids stand out in the night sky.

OCTOBER 9TH – MOON AND VENUS: NAKED EYE EVENT The 3-day old moon and Venus will pair up in the southwest late evening sky. The sliver of a moon and Venus will travel together towards the horizon as they both set for the night 2 hours after sunset.
TELESCOPE EVENT – A telescope or binoculars will give viewers a great view of our sister planet and interesting mountain ranges on the moon.

OCTOBER 10TH – SOUTHERN TAURID METEOR SHOWER: NAKED EYE EVENT The Taurid Meteor Shower is split into two streams thanks to the Planet Jupiter. The southern stream of debris is what we’ll pass through during our orbit around the sun on this night. While not a dazzling meteor shower like we saw back in August, the low moonlight will make it worth watching out for one or two. We’ll pass through the Northern Stream in November.

OCTOBER 14TH – MOON, JUPITER, & SATURN: NAKED EYE EVENT The moon, just days after 1st quarter, will join with Saturn and Jupiter in the night sky once again. The trio will travel across the night sky from dusk until just before 1 am when they will all set below the southwestern sky.
TELESCOPE EVENT Telescope users will be dazzled with Jupiter’s moons, Saturn’s rings, and side-lit craters on the moon.

OCTOBER 17TH – DWARF PLANET ERIS – LARGE TELESCOPE EVENT: The dwarf planet Eris nearly 6.3 billion miles away from earth reaches opposition this night. This will make Eris bright enough for telescope users to observe. Look for the constellation Cetus or use a night sky app to locate it.

OCTOBER 20TH – HUNTER’S MOON: NAKED EYE EVENT October’s full moon, also known as the Hunter’s Moon, will rise this night. The Hunter’s Moon follows the Harvest which usually rises in September. The Harvest Moon was once used to let farmers know it was time to harvest their crops before the first freeze. The month after, the Hunter’s moon signified when farmers switched from farming to hunting. The moon will be 100% full around 11 am.

OCTOBER 21ST – ORIONID METEOR SHOWER: NAKED EYE EVENT Back in 1986, Haley’s Comet flew past Earth leaving a trail of debris in its path. Each year in October, our orbit takes us back through this debris giving us the Orionid Meteor Shower. In terms of speed, meteors in this event rank 2nd traveling nearly 148,000mph through our atmosphere. In the past, the Orionids have had up to 80 meteors per hour but recently that number is down to about 10-20 per hour. To find this event, simply look for the constellation Orion (typically found by Orions Belt which consists of 3 stars in a row) in the Eastern Sky away from city lights. The event runs from October 2nd through November 7th and will peak in activity the evening of October 21st and the morning of October 22nd.

LESS NOTABLE METEOR SHOWERS IN OCTOBER:
October 5th – Camelopardalid Meteor Shower Peaks NAKED EYE EVENT
5 meteors an hour at its peak. Look for the constellation Camelopardalis (or just south of Ursa Minor, the Little Dipper)
October 10th – Southern Taurid Meteor Shower Peaks NAKED EYE EVENT
5 meteors an hour at its peak. Look for the Constellation Taurus. Northern Taurid peaks in November.
October 18th – Geminid Meteor Shower Peaks NAKED EYE EVENT
3 meteors an hour at its peak. Look for the Constellation Gemini.
October 24th – Leonis Minorids Meteor Shower Peaks NAKED EYE EVENT
2 meteors an hour at its peak. The best viewing is pre-dawn on 10/24 in the Constellation Leo.

NAKED EYE EVENT: The event is visible without the aid of binoculars or telescopes in dark sky conditions.
TELESCOPE EVENT: The event is enhanced by the use of a hobby telescope or binoculars
LARGE TELESCOPE EVENT: A large (8-10 inch) telescope is required to view the event.

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