Oct 20 & 21 2012 astro events October 18, 2012Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, MichiganAstro.
Tags: Algol, Jupiter, meteor shower, Moon, observing, Orionids, Venus
If the weather cooperates, this will be a great astronomy weekend!
As I mentioned in my earlier post on observing this month, the Orionid Meteor shower peaks this weekend. This weekend is also a first quarter Moon, which means by the early morning hours the Moon has set, and the skies should be nice and dark. The Orionids tend to be an extended shower, with plenty of meteors for several days on either side of the peak, so going out in the pre-dawn hours any day from today through early next week is good. This is especially good if you live someplace like SE Michigan, where the weather has a tendency to turn bad almost every evening (darn those great lakes, always evaporating!) According to a NASA Science News post, the peak will actually be early Sunday morning. Orion will be due south around 5 AM Sunday, so find an observing location with a clear view in that direction.
While you’re out there, look for Jupiter! He’s not far away, in Taurus. If you have a small telescope, you’ll be able to see the four Galilean Moons. This S&T utility will tell you which moon is which. (you can also try this old post if that link doesn’t work.)
If you’re up for watching into the twilight hours, Venus rises about 6:30. She’s so bright she’s easy to spot even when low in the sky, where she looks like an airplane or even a hovering UFO.
About the same time that Venus rises, Algol should start into eclipse on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, astronomical twilight also begins around that time, so it may be hard to tell whether the star’s disappearance is due to the eclipse, or the sky brightening. If you want to plan for an easier Algol minima, try this S&T article on this very ghoulish star.
This weekend is also Astronomy Day. Many clubs and outreach organizations have special events. If you’re in SE Michiagan, and the weather is clear, head to the Kensington Metropark Nature Center between noon and 4 for solar observing (also, something about a clown, some raptors, and a rock wall you can climb.) More info on Roscoe and the Raptors at the Metroparks website. If you’re not in SE Michigan, take a look at the Night Sky Network’s calendar of events.