Welcome to October! There is plenty of stuff happening in the night sky over the next 30 days. Here’s a preview:
The Draconids Meteor Shower, a minor shower with around 10 meteors per hour, will occur from Friday through next Tuesday, peaking on Sunday. It is produced by dust left behind from a comet. The best viewing will be during the early evening hours. It’s called the Draconids because the meteors will appear to come from the Draco constellation.
A little later in the month, the Orionids Meteor Shower will put on a slightly better show. It’s an average shower producing around 20 meteors per hour at its peak. The shower runs through October, but peaks on October 21. The best viewing hours are between midnight and dawn, and the meteors will appear to come from the constellation Orion.
On October 12, a small asteroid about the size of a semi-truck will closely shave earth missing by a distance around 24,000 miles, an astronomical stone’s throw. Its current trajectory has it passing only a few thousand miles outside our outermost satellites. Right now it poses no threat of impact. Only those with especially advanced telescopes will be able to see it.
The International Space Station (ISS) will be visible almost every night during the evening hours after sunset. The space station is about the size of a football field, is around 250 miles above the Earth. It is moving around 17,000 mph. Here’s a short list of times to see it the next few nights:
-- Wednesday, Oct. 4: 8:12 p.m.
-- Thursday, October 5: 7:20 p.m., 8:56 p.m.
-- Friday, October 6: 8:04 p.m.
Also, October has been known to be one of the best months for viewing the aurora borealis. For whatever reason, the months of October and March tend to have the most sightings. It may have something to do with the equinox which occurs in March and September each year.