A meteor shower and Hunter’s Moon will light the night the sky this weekend
This weekend will be exciting for stargazers. Not to be outdone by last week’s successful NASA Asteroid Collision Mission ,, the Draconid Meteor Shower will illuminate the night skies above Earth on October 8-9. During the Draconid, Earth makes contact with millions of tiny, icy rocks that were left by the comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner. NASA estimates that this 1. 24 mile-wide comet crosses Earth’s orbit once every 6 and a half years, making its last close approach in September 2018.
Unfortunately, the annual Hunter’s Moon will also peak this weekend, and the light from the bright full moon will outshine the dazzling glittery meteors a bit. Usually, skywatchers can see roughly 10 to 20 meteors per hour during the Draconids, but the night sky will likely be too bright to see many this year.
[Related: How to photograph a meteor shower. ]
The same guidelines apply To view this meteor shower, go to a dark place away from any lights and let your eyes adjust for half an hour. You don’t need a telescope or binoculars to view this meteor shower. All you need is your eyes and curiosity.
Meteor Showers such as this one occur when the Earth passes through rocky debris and comet clouds. As the specs of comet flip and tumble through the atmosphere, some of them catch fire and streak through the sky. They are officially called meteors. They are usually too small to cause any damage, and most space rocks explode long before they reach the ground. The hearty few who are big enough to survive the plunge hit the ground as meteorites.
The Dragonid meteor shower appears on Earth to be coming from the constellation Draco (the Latin word for dragon). This constellation is located in the northern sky and appears to have a serpent-like tail that swoops between the Big & Little Dippers.
While the Draconids are getting most of the attention, the Hunter’s Moon is still worth a look over the weekend. According to The Ole Farmer’s Almanac ., the Hunter’s Moon is visible every October. It marks fall hunting season when animals are larger after having spent the summer eating to prepare for winter. Some other terms for October’s Moon in America are the Migrating Moon(Cree), Freezing Moon (Ojibwe), or the Blood Moon (among others).
This year, it will shine brightest on Sunday October 9. It hits peak brightness at around 4: 55 p.m. EST, but the moon should still appear to be full a few hours later when the sky is daker.
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.