Monday, October 20, 2014

The Sun, the Moon, Orionid meteor shower…The Skies are active this week! …


First the Orionid Meteor Shower which peaks the morning of October 21st (The best time to watch the meteor shower begins from 1 or 2 a.m. local time until around dawn- so maybe you want to call it the 20th!) At this time Orion is the highest in the sky; the higher in the sky Orion is, the more meteors appear all over the bowl of the sky. The Orionids are one of just a handful of known meteor showers that can be observed equally well from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres but as typically the Orionid meteors are dim they are not well seen from urban locations, so move to the country or find a safe rural location to best enjoy the Orionid activity.


What is the Orionid activity? Glad you asked! The Orionid meteor shower is created each year when Earth passes through dust left behind by the famous Halley's Comet. Thinking to yourself that you have heard that of another meteor shower, well you have. The comet actually creates two different meteor showers on Earth every year. The orbit of Halley’s Comet closely approaches the Earth’s orbit at two places. One point is in the early part of May, producing a meteor display known as the Eta Aquarids. The other point comes in the middle to latter part of October, producing the Orionids.  


The Orionids are one of the better annual displays, producing about 15 to 20 meteors per hour at their peak. Add the 5 to 10 sporadic meteors that always are plunging into our atmosphere and you get a maximum of about 20 to 30 meteors per hour for a dark sky location. Most of these meteors are relatively faint, however, so any light pollution will cut the total way down



Mark October 23rd -  Thursday on your calendar as "Solar Eclipse Day."You should have no difficulty observing a partial eclipse of the sun – if the weather cooperates. Most of North America, cutting out a sliver of eastern Canada and a slice of eastern New England, will be able to catch the partial solar eclipse. People who live east of a line running from roughly Quebec City to Montauk Point, New York, will miss out on the solar show, since the sun will set before the dark disc of the moon begins to encroach upon it.


The several hundred thousand people who inhabit parts of Siberia will get a brief view around local sunrise time — but on Friday (Oct. 24), because this part of the eclipse visibility zone is to the west of the International  Date Line. So, for this part of the world, the event will begin on the day after it ends! [Partial Solar Eclipse of October 2014: Visibility Maps]


But take care!! While unlike a total eclipse of the sun, which concentrates viewing excitement into a few fleeting minutes, a partial solar eclipse can be watched without urgency. AND observations can be made with the naked eye, binoculars or telescopes of any size. BUT REMEMBER: the sun is no less dangerous to look at during a partial eclipse than it is on a normal sunny day. Don't be tempted to squint at the spectacle or steal unsafe glances just because part of the sun's surface is blocked by the moon!


There always are better ways to both participate in viewing and at the same time be safe. From various online spots to view the eclipse without risk or pin hole methods….whatever you select, be careful though Casual looking should not be a concern.

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