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October features two eclipses, meteor showers

  • The month features an annual solar eclipse and a partial lunar eclipse
  • The Draconid and Orionid meteor showers will also be visible
  • Several planets, including Jupiter, Venus and Saturn will be viewable

The moon moves in front of the sun in a rare “ring of fire” solar eclipse as seen from Balut Island, in the Saraggani province in the southern island of Mindanao, on December 26, 2019. (Photo by Ferdinandh Cabrera/AFP via Getty Images)

(NewsNation) — October is a good time to look to the sky, as the month features two eclipses and two meteor showers along with ideal conditions for stargazing. Here’s what to look out for.

The month kicked off with Jupiter taking a bright place next to the moon, appearing as a silvery, non-twinkling star. The giant planet will continue to be visible throughout the month, reaching peak brilliance for the year. By the end of October, it will be possible to view Jupiter before it even gets fully dark.

When it comes to planets, Venus will also make an appearance shining brightly near the waning crescent moon in the early morning hours of Oct. 10 and Oct. 11. Mercury will be visible during the first week of the month, while Saturn will be visible for much of the evening throughout the month.

On Oct. 8 and 9, skygazers have a chance to see the Draconid meteor shower, which is forecast to peak from the evening of Oct. 8 through the early morning of Oct. 9. Unlike many meteor showers, the Draconids are more likely to happen in the evening hours rather than after midnight.

While the meteor shower typically only produces a few meteors per hour, there have been years when it’s lived up to the dragon name and sent forth hundreds of fiery meteors in an hour.

Oct. 14 will kick off eclipse season with the first of two eclipses. The annual solar eclipse will create a “ring of fire” effect visible to those in an area stretching from southern Oregon to southern Texas. The ring of fire happens when the moon is not quite big enough to cover the sun, leaving a halo of light around the eclipse. For the rest of North America, it will appear as a partial solar eclipse.

The eclipse will occur around 11 a.m. ET. It is dangerous to view a solar eclipse directly, and anyone who is hoping to catch a glimpse should do so through solar viewing glasses or a handheld solar viewing device.

For more meteors, the Orionids will peak from Oct. 21 through Oct. 22 in the hours after midnight. The shooting stars may also be visible in the days leading up to and following the peak. The Orionids originate from Halley’s comet, with debris entering the atmosphere at around 41 miles per second.

However, the viewing conditions for the display of shooting stars won’t be ideal, as the moon will be a waxing crescent at the time.

Finally, eclipse season will conclude with a lunar eclipse on Oct. 28 during the full Hunter’s moon, also known as the migrating moon, drying rice moon and ice moon. A partial lunar eclipse will occur beginning at around 3:36 p.m. EDT, as the moon passes through the Earth’s shadow.

The eclipse won’t be visible to those in North America, as the moon will still be below the horizon at that time.

Those hoping to view the astronomical phenomenon happening in October will have the best results by heading away from cities to avoid light pollution and get clearer views of the night sky.


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