Fall features a variety of events that don’t require telescopes to view, including several meteor showers, planetary alignments and the only supermoon of 2017. One of the most well-known full moons of the year will rise in early October, shining brightly in the autumn sky. Most of us have a fascination with the night sky, whether it be the stars, constellations, or the moon. The moon will rise on October 5 and will be known as the harvest moon. “The Harvest Moon is the moon that falls nearest the autumnal equinox; this full Moon provides the most light at the time when it’s needed most—to complete the harvest,” the Old Farmer’s Almanac said.
Meteor showers frequent the night sky during the fall with a shower peaking once every few weeks. The Orionids comprise one of the bigger meteor showers of the season. It also falls during a weekend, peaking on the night of Friday, Oct. 20, and lasting into the early morning hours of Saturday, Oct. 21. We will post more about this event as it approaches.
Planetary conjunctions seem to spark interest with different groups of people, and some even believe that alignments can affect humans. Two of the brightest planets, Jupiter and Venus, in the sky will appear extremely close to each other in the pre-dawn sky around the middle of November. Both planets will appear to be one big star, but in reality, there are two planets side by side in the night sky during this event. This type of astronomical event is called a conjunction, marking the time in which the planets will appear closest to each other before they gradually appear to drift apart.
The only supermoon of 2017 will be visible on December 3 and will be called the Full Cold Moon as December is the month when the winter cold fastens its grip, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. Just ten days after this event, the Geminid meteor shower will occur on December 13. The Geminid meteor shower is the most active one of the year with up to 120 meteors per hour. The best time to view the shower will be after midnight; however, the Geminids will be active during the evening hours as well.