What's Up - October 2016
What's Up for October? Moon Phases, Astronomy Day, Saturn and Venus align with a star.
What's Up for October? Moon phases, Astronomy Day, meteors and Saturn!
Hello and welcome. I'm Jane Houston Jones from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
The new moon phase starts the month on October 1. Of course, the new moon isn't visible, because it's between Earth and the sun, and the unlit side is facing Earth. Night by night the slender crescent gets bigger and higher in the sky and easier to see just after sunset. On the 3rd and 4th, the moon will pass just above Venus!
A week later on the 9th the moon has traveled through one quarter of its 29-day orbit around Earth, and we see the first quarter phase. Also look for Mars just below the moon.
Join me in celebrating International Observe the Moon Night Saturday, October 8th, with your local astronomy club or science center. Conveniently, the 8th is also Fall Astronomy Day, celebrated internationally by astronomy clubs since 1973.
One week later on the 16th the moon reaches opposition, or the full moon phase, when the moon and the sun are on opposite sides of Earth. And the sun completely illuminates the moon as seen from Earth. During this phase, the moon rises in the east just as the sun is setting in the west. Overnight, the moon crosses the sky and sets at dawn.
A week later, on the 22nd of October, the last quarter moon rises at midnight. Later, the pretty and bright Beehive Cluster will be visible near the moon until dawn.
To wrap up the month, 29 days after the last new moon we start the lunar cycle all over again with another new moon phase on October 30th. Will you be able to spot the one-day old moon on Halloween? It will be a challenge!
There are three meteor showers in October--the Draconids, the Taurids and the Orionids. Try for the Draconids on October 8th. See the Taurids on October 10th. The Orionids will be marred by the full moon on the 21st, but all three meteor showers will offer some possible bright meteors.
Finally, you'll have an especially pretty view of Saturn, when it forms a straight line with Venus and the red star Antares on the 27th.
You can catch up on NASA's lunar mission, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Cassini Mission to Saturn and all of NASA's missions at www.nasa.gov. That's all for this month, I'm Jane Houston Jones.