Huestis: Meteors & Other Astronomical Treats
Sunday, October 02, 2016
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.
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.
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
Wearing Comfy Sweaters while visiting the Mass Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary
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.
Grape Season at Newport Vineyards
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.
International Oktoberfest at Alex & Ani Center
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.
Leaf Peeping in The Berkshires
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?
Start of Apple Picking Season at Pippen Orchards
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.
The Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston
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.
Learning at Plimoth Plantation
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last Chances for Al Fresco Dining at Boat House Restaurant
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.
Star of Pumpkin Picking at Jaswell's Farm
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
Attend King Richard's Faire
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
- Huestis: New Horizons Spacecraft to Encounter Pluto
- Huestis: Saturn - The Original Lord of the Rings
- Huestis: Moon to Cover Bright Star in Taurus
- Huestis: The Total Lunar Eclipse
- Huestis: May’s Planet Parade for the Astronomy Enthusiast
- Huestis: Astronomical Events Determine Easter Observance
- Sky Watching with Dave Huestis: Solar Flares
- Huestis: Observing the Winter Circle
- Huestis: Reason for the Season(s)
- Huestis: Astronomical Highlights for November
- Huestis: A Gem of a Meteor Shower & Maybe a Naked-eye Comet
- Huestis: Fireball Over New England Tuesday Morning Was “Bright One”
- Huestis: Dual Planetary Close Encounters
- Huestis: Astro Humor & Two Late-July Meteor Showers
- Huestis: A Shower of Comet Dust - Get Ready for the Perseids
- Huestis: Transit of Mercury - An Infrequent Astronomical Event
- Huestis: A Few Astronomical Highlights for Stargazers
- Huestis: The Mystery of the Christmas Star
- Huestis: Meteor Shower Prospects for 2016 & Other Astronomical Highlights
- Huestis: Prime Time for Observing Jupiter
- Huestis: Venus and Jupiter Appear to Merge