Night sky guide for October 2014

Night sky guide for October 2014

A total lunar eclipse will be visible on October 8 throughout most of North America, South America, Asia, and Australia. The Moon will gradually get darker and then take on a rusty or blood red color. It is the latter of two total lunar eclipses in 2014, and the second in a tetrad (four total lunar eclipses in series).

Astronomy and stargazing clubs and other similar organizations around the world will plan special events on October 4 during the second part of annual Astronomy Day event. This will be a good day to contact your local astronomy or planetarium and see what they have to offer.

2014 is an excellent year for the Orionid Meteor Shower because there will be no moon to interfere with the show. Orionids peak on the night of October 21 and the morning of October 22.

The Moon will partially cover the Sun on October 23 providing a partial solar eclipse view to observers in North and Central America.

  • October 2 - M31 - Andromeda Galaxy - is well placed for observation. The Andromeda Galaxy is an island of billions of stars. On a clear, dark night it appears as a faint smudge of light. Approximately 2.5 million light-years away, M31 is the closest spiral galaxy to our own Milky Way Galaxy and the most distant object you can see with your eyes alone. Binoculars and small telescopes reveal M31’s glowing nucleus and spiral arms. (Read more)

  • October 4 - Astronomy Day - Part 2. Astronomy Day is an annual event intended to provide a means of interaction between the general public and various astronomy enthusiasts, groups and professionals. The theme of Astronomy Day is "Bringing Astronomy to the People," and on this day astronomy and stargazing clubs and other organizations around the world will plan special events. You can find out about special local events by contacting your local astronomy club or planetarium. You can also find more about Astronomy Day by checking the Web site for the Astronomical League.

  • October 7 - Uranus at Opposition. Uranus will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. It will be visible for much of the night, reaching its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. This is the best time to view Uranus. Due to its distance, it will only appear as a tiny blue-green dot in all but the most powerful telescopes. (Read more)

  • October 8 - Full Moon - 10:51 UTC. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Hunters Moon because at this time of year the leaves are falling and the game is fat and ready to hunt. This moon has also been known as the Travel Moon and the Blood Moon.

  • October 8 - Total Lunar Eclipse - 10:54 UTC. The Moon will pass completely through the Earth's dark shadow, or umbra. During this type of eclipse, the Moon will gradually get darker and then take on a rusty or blood red color. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of North America, South America, eastern Asia, and Australia. This is the latter of two total lunar eclipses in 2014, and the second in a tetrad (four total lunar eclipses in series). Other eclipses in the tetrad are those of April 15, 2014, April 4, 2015, and September 28, 2015. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)  (Read more)

  • October 8, 9 - Draconid Meteor Shower. A minor meteor shower producing only about 10 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet 21P Giacobini-Zinner, first discovered in 1900. The shower runs annually from October 6 - 10 and peaks this year on the the night of the 8th and morning of the 9th. Unfortunately the glare from the full moon this year will block out all but the brightest meteors. If you are extremely patient, you may be able to catch a few good ones. Best viewing will be just after midnight from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Draco, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

  • October 22, 23 - Orionid Meteor Shower. An average shower with up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak produced by dust grains left behind by comet Halley. The shower runs annually from October 2 to November 7. It peaks this year on the night of October 21 and the morning of October 22. This will be an excellent year for the Orionids because there will be no moon to interfere with the show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Orion, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

  • October 23 - New Moon - 21:57 UTC. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

  • October 23 - Partial Solar Eclipse - 21:44 UTC. A partial solar eclipse occurs when the Moon covers only a part of the Sun, sometimes resembling a bite taken out of a cookie. A partial solar eclipse can only be safely observed with a special solar filter or by looking at the Sun's reflection. The partial eclipse will be visible throughout most of North and Central America. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)

Video courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope

Sources: SeaSky.org, InTheSky.org, Hubble Space Telescope

Featured image: Solar System Scope image for October 8, 2014. Edit: TW

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