Welcome! Login | Register

VIDEO: Brown Grad is Leading Uber’s IPO— May Be One of the Biggest Public Offerings in US History—VIDEO: Brown Grad is Leading Uber's IPO --…

Warren Calls for Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan to be Fired—Warren Calls for Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan…

Blackstone Valley Tech Earns National Program Recognition—Blackstone Valley Tech Earns National Program Recognition

Horowitz: Mueller Report Lands—Horowitz: Mueller Report Lands

MA Gas Prices Rise 6 Cents from Last Week—MA Gas Prices Rise 6 Cents from Last…

10 Great Pets in Need of Loving Homes - March 26, 2019—10 Great Pets in Need of Loving Homes…

Worcester Police Seek Public’s Help in Identifying Suspect Who Robbed Mocine Salon—Worcester Police Seek Public’s Help in Identifying Suspect…

U.S. Attorney General Barr’s Letter to Congressional Leaders on Mueller Report - READ THE LETTER—U.S. Attorney General Barr's Letter to Congressional Leaders…

Gronkowski Announces Retirement on Instagram—Gronkowski Announces Retirement on Instagram

Smart Benefits: Spring Fever - Boost Motivation Through Engagement—Smart Benefits: Spring Fever - Boost Motivation Through…


Huestis: Meteors & Other Astronomical Treats

Sunday, October 02, 2016


I hope many of you had the good fortune of watching the Perseid meteor shower on the peak night of August 11-12. Just prior to the event some astronomers were predicting a brief but substantial increase in activity. Unfortunately that scenario never manifested itself here. I counted 23 Perseids between 1:10am and 2:50am. Clouds finally blotted out the stars at that end time. Many of the meteors swept through Pegasus, while others streaked down the Milky Way. Some of the brighter shower members left trains of dust that lasted for one to two seconds, making for a decent display of shooting stars this year.


If you happen to travel in a westerly direction after sunset during the next several months, that very bright heavenly beacon you see in the sky will be Venus. This planet, named for the goddess of love, and Earth will be moving closer together as the pair revolves around the Sun in their respective orbits. Through a telescope the image size of Venus will dramatically increase, yet at the same time, the illuminated phase (Venus goes through phases similar to that of the Moon) will decrease. It is best to telescopically observe Venus in a twilight sky so its brilliance does not overwhelm the view in the eyepiece.

If the Perseids didn’t satisfy your appetite for watching “burning rocks” fall from the sky, then mark your calendar for the night of October 7-8 to watch the minor meteor shower called the Draconids. Though this shooting star display only produces ten or less yellowish slow moving meteors per hour, a waxing crescent Moon (First Quarter on the 9th) will set around 10:30pm and will slightly interfere with observing as many meteors as possible. This shower of particles is debris shed by periodic Comet 21 P/ Giacobini-Zinner.

All you have to do to observe as many meteors as possible is to gaze northwards and find Ursa Major (Big Bear), the Big Dipper asterism. At the midnight hour Ursa Minor (Little Bear), the Little Dipper asterism, will be above Ursa Major. The radiant point, in the head of the dragon, will be to the left of the Little Dipper. While the meteors will emanate from this region of the sky, scan east and west up to zenith (directly overhead). These particles are fairly slow moving, hitting our atmosphere at only 12.5 miles per second. As the night progresses watch the northern sky rotate around Polaris, the Earth’s pole star located at the end of the Little Dipper handle.

Observing After Midnight

If you love to observe astronomical events during the quiet time after midnight, then set aside a little more than an hour during the early morning of October 19 to experience once again an occultation of the bright star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus’ Hyades star cluster. As the waning gibbous Moon moves eastward in our sky, it will pass in front of Aldebaran along the Moon’s bright limb (left edge) at approximately 1:49am EDT, and will reappear along the Moon’s dark limb (right edge) at approximately 2:53am EDT. You may see dimmer stars covered and/or uncovered during this time as well, and earlier in the evening on the 18th the Moon will pass in front of other stars in the Hyades cluster too. You will not need a telescope to watch Aldebaran disappear and reappear, although binoculars will enhance the view. With a telescope you might see the star blink as it passes behind crater walls or lunar mountains. Give it a try.

October Nights

And finally, on the night of October 20-21, the peak of the Orionid meteor shower occurs when the Earth passes through the remnants of Halley’s Comet. Generally a decent meteor shower, an interfering waning gibbous Moon (last quarter on the 23rd) will rise locally on the 20th around 10:00pm in the feet of Gemini the twins. This placement is very close to the shower’s radiant point in the constellation of Orion, not far from the bright red super giant star Betelgeuse. This scenario will most certainly affect observing the peak rate of about 20 or so yellow and green meteors per hour between midnight and dawn’s early light. The Orionid meteors disintegrate in our atmosphere around 41.6 miles per second, and they are also noted for producing fireballs that create persistent dust trains as they blaze across the sky.

While Orion is an easy star pattern to identify, at 3:00am this giant constellation can be found high in the southeast sky. See accompanying star map.

In conclusion, please remember that the local observatories are open for your viewing pleasure. Visit their respective websites for public observing schedules. Seagrave Memorial Observatory  in North Scituate is open every clear Saturday night. (Note: Seagrave will be closed on October 1 due to our annual AstroAssembly convention, and we will also be closed on October 29 for a special member’s only night). Ladd Observatory in Providence is open every Tuesday night. The Margaret M. Jacoby Observatory at the CCRI Knight Campus in Warwick is open every clear Wednesday night. And our good friends down at Frosty Drew Observatory in Charlestown open every clear Friday night.

Clear skies for all your observing adventures.

Great American Total Solar Eclipse on August 21, 2017. Countdown: 323 days as of October 1, 2016.  


Related Slideshow: 20 Reasons Why Fall in New England is the Best Season - 2016

Prev Next

Wearing Comfy Sweaters while visiting the Mass Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary 

Lincoln, MA 

Listen to the sounds of birds chirping, see the rabits hopping around happily and so much more when you visit the Mass Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary.

You may need a little sweater but you will not regret the walk, or seeing the wildlife. 

Prev Next

Grape Season at Newport Vineyards 

Newport, RI 

For wine lovers, this is one of the best times of the year because it's grape season.

There are many great Vineyards around New England but Newport Vineyards tops the list and fall is one of the best times to visit, even if you may need a sweater. 

Enjoy the wine.

Prev Next

Fall Ferry Ride to Block Island 

Block Island, RI 

Start the fall off by sailing away on a ferry to Block Island for the day. 

Enjoy the beach, outdoor dining, gift shops or just the views.  

Prev Next

Last Chance for Outdoor Dining at Caffe Expresso Trattoria 

Worcester, MA

Caffe Espresso Trattoria has been open for over 20 years as a family owned and operated restaurant. Trattoria offfers authentic Italian home cooking.

Prev Next

International Oktoberfest at Alex & Ani Center 

Providence, RI

International Oktoberfest will take pace at the Alex & Ani Center in Providence on Saturday, September 24 and 25. 

The festival will include seasonal beer, German cuisine and live music. 

One of the main events of the fall season in all of New England. 

Prev Next

Leaf Peeping in The Berkshires

Berkshires, MA

Arguably the coolest thing about the fall season is the changing of the leaves. You will want to go up to the Berkshires and stroll through a park or just down a street and take note of all the colors, it's a must do fall activity.

How many colors can you see?

Prev Next

Holy Cross Football is Back 

Worcester, MA 

 After a 6-5 season in 2015, the Holy Cross Crusaders football team returns to action and looking for a Patriot League title with a veteran team. 

Grab your best Holy Cross sweater and head over to Fitton Field. 

Prev Next

Bragging Rights on the Line in Final Tennis Matches

Still owe someone a rematch? or maybe just a match in general.

There is still plenty of great weather left to get the match in and the winner of the match takes home bragging rights which they hold for the entire winter. 

Game on! 

Prev Next

Start of Apple Picking Season at Pippen Orchards

Cranston, RI 

There are not to many better fall family activities then to spend a day picking some apples.

Be sure to make the most out of the start of the fall season when you pick Pippin Orchards apples.

Then bring the apples home to make apple pie, apple sauce, or enjoy as they are.

Happy picking! 

Prev Next

Fall Lineup of Beers 

Whether it's Octoberfest from Sam Adams or a pumpkin beer from Harpoon or Newport Storm, it's time to get out to your local bar or store and pick up some of the great fall beers on tap or in stock.

Prev Next

The Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston

Norton, MA 

The best golfers in the world are all in Boston for the second leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs this Labor Day Weekend.

Defending champion Rickie Fowler will look to repeat while superstars Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day look to take his title. 

Prev Next

Learning at Plimoth Plantation

Plimoth, MA

The fall season is Plimoth Plantation's busiest time of year and it is a great time to bring the family.

Visit the Wampanoag Homesite, the 17th-Century English Village, Nye Barn, Craft Center, Plimoth Bread Company, Mayflower II, and the Plimoth Grist Mill!

A great way to learn and have fun at the same time.

Prev Next

Last Golf Rounds of the Season at Harbor Lights 

Warwick, Rhode Island 

Golfers don't put away those clubs just yet. The summer may be nearly over but the fall offers some of the best golf weather of the entire season. 

Take advantage of it at the beautiful Harbor Lights golf course in Warwick. 

Prev Next

Cozy Sweaters at Waterfire 

Providence, Rhode Island 

The evenings do get a bit cooler, however, they are still some of the best nights of the season and the fires are still burning bright in Providence.

Grab your nicest, coziest sweater and head down for an evening of fun, romance and much more.  

Prev Next

The New England Patriots 

Foxboro, MA

Every fall for the last 15-16 years, the New England Patriots have entered the season with a chance to win the Super Bowl, in a lot of cases, even favored to win it.

That's pretty cool and is a big reason why fall is the best season in New England. 

Although, the first four games of this season may be tricky. 

Prev Next

Take a Trip up Mount Mansfield 

Stowe, Vermont

Visit Vermont and take a gondola up Mount Mansfield. Once you get to the top, look back at the spectacular view. There are not to many views llike it. 

For travelers, be sure to bring a jacket.

Prev Next

Last Chances for Al Fresco Dining at Boat House Restaurant 

Tiverton, RI

The views of Mount Hope Bay are unparalleled. Enjoy some wine with a snack or three while watching the sunset.  The chef is known for a well-balanced menu of seasonal treats that uses locally sourced seafood in creative ways.

Celebrate the arrival of fall and sit outside at the Boat House Restaurant. 

Prev Next

Star of Pumpkin Picking at Jaswell's Farm

Rhode Island 

Pumpkin picking is a timeless event for families, especially those with young kids who will love to just run around and grab whichever pumpkin looks good to them.

The fall season is all about pumpkins and pumpkin picking is one of the best fall activities going. 


PHOTO: Flickr/Glenn Fleischman

Prev Next

Attend King Richard's Faire

Carver, Massachusetts

Dive into history at King Richard's Faire, New England's oldest and largest Renaissance Festival and most beloved annual fall event. Dress up, play games and learn alot at a faire that is a great fall event for the entire family.

The Faire starts on September 3 and goes until October 23 

Prev Next

Visit Animals at the Zoo One Last Time

It's almost that time of year when the local Zoo's close up shop for the winter. Take the family to see the animals one last time.

The Zoo makes for a great fall day for the entire family.


Related Articles


Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Delivered Free Every
Day to Your Inbox