Michigan’s October Night Sky: Harvest & Blue Moon, Meteor Showers
The October night sky will feature a full Harvest Moon, two meteor showers, Mars' closest approach of the year, and a full Halloween Hunter’s Blue Moon.
Gazing at the night sky is free and can be done safely in the age of COVID-19. Cloud cover is about the only thing that can disrupt a proper viewing of the night sky. Unpack that thermos, stock up on hot chocolate or cider and mark your calendar for these celestial events.
October kicks off with a bang. October 1, 2020, will begin with a full Harvest Moon. According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, the moonrise will come just after sunset resulting in an abundance of bright moonlight early in the evening. Traditionally the extra light would aide farmers in harvesting their crops. The “Harvest Moon” will rise at dusk in the east.
Draconids Meteor Shower will peak on October 7, 2020. Draconids is an annual meteor shower that was produced by dust and debris left in the Solar System by Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, according to Forbes.com. Draconids is unique in that it is the only meteor shower each year that is easiest to spot directly following sunset. You can expect around 10 shooting stars per hour.
Mars makes its closest approach to the earth of the year on October 13, 2020. Mars will appear to be bigger and brighter at its opposition to the sun. Technically, this will be the best viewing of the red planet since 2003. Mars will be fully illuminated by the sun making it the best time to observe and photograph. Viewing will remain favorable through early December.
Orionids Meteor Shower peaks October 21, 2020. Orionids are considered to be the most bountiful meteor shower associated with Halley's Comet. The Orionids are so-called because the point they appear to come from, called the radiant, lies in the constellation Orion, but they can be seen over a large area of the sky, according to Wikipedia.
A rare full Halloween Hunter’s Blue Moon caps off the month on October 31, 2020. A blue moon happens when there is a second full moon in a month. It just so happens the second full moon of the month falls on Halloween this year. This Halloween's full moon will also be known as the hunter’s moon, which is the first full moon to follow the harvest moon. The Halloween Hunter’s Blue Moon will peak at 10:49 a.m. ET.