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5 Sky Events This Week: Partial Lunar Eclipse, Halley’s Shooting Stars

This image of Halley's comet was taken back in 1986, when it swung by Earth in its 76 year orbit. This week bits of the famous comet will be falling into Earth's atmosphere as shooting stars. Credit: NASA/ESA/Max-Planck-Institute for Solar System Research
This 1986 image of Halley’s comet was taken when it swung by Earth during its 76-year orbit. This week, bits of the famous comet will come falling into Earth’s atmosphere as shooting stars. Credit: NASA/ESA/Max-Planck-Institute for Solar System Research

Mars and Regulus. Looking high east at dawn on Wednesday, October 16, check out Mars as it pairs up with Regulus, the lead star of the constellation Leo the lion.  The contrast in color between the orange-hued planet and the sparkling white, 79-light-year distant star is particularly striking with the naked eye or binoculars. What makes it so eye-catching is that the pair will appear to be separated by less than two degrees—equal to only four full moons side by side.

Regulus points to ISON.  Skywatchers with backyard telescopes can easily hunt down the much-talked about comet ISON in the pre-dawn skies of October 16 as it passes only two degrees north of the brilliant star Regulus.

Venus and Mars’ Rival.  A half hour after local sunset on Wednesday, October 16 and 17, look low in the southwest for the brightest planet of the evening sky perched above Antares—the lead star in the constellation Scorpius.

For ancient Greeks and Romans the distinct reddish tinge of this 600 light-year distant star reminded them of the Red Planet—hence its name. Look for the cosmic duo to appear separated by less than two degrees—little more than the width of your thumb at arm’s length.

Partial Lunar Eclipse.  On Friday evening, October 18, the full moon—also known as the Hunter’s Moon—glides through the outer edge of Earth’s shadow and undergoes a penumbral eclipse. The deepest part of the eclipse is at 7:50 pm EDT (23:50 UT), when a dark grey shading will appear along the southeastern edge of the moon.

The eclipse will be visible across eastern North America, South America, across Europe, and Africa on Friday night. Sky-watchers on the Asian continent get to witness the partial lunar eclipse at dawn on October 19.

Orionid Peaks. Starting late night on Sunday, October 20 and into the pre-dawn hours of Monday, the Orionid meteor shower peaks. But even though this year’s show will be slightly hindered by a waning gibbous moon, since Orionids are known to be brighter-than-average shooting stars, even sky-watchers in the suburbs can catch some of the action.

The Orionids are believed be a result of material shed from Halley’s Comet. The debris then slams into our atmosphere, creating a trickle of shooting stars.

The Orionids exhibit a maximum of about 20 meteors per hour, and all of them seem to radiate from its namesake constellation, Orion the hunter, north of Orion’s bright ruddy star Betelgeuse.

 

Tell us—what amazing sky phenomena have you seen lately?

Follow Andrew Fazekas, the Night Sky Guy, on Twitter and Facebook.

Comments

  1. Lauren
    May 10, 11:14 pm

    This is truly a wonderful site.

  2. Sarah Arnold
    January 6, 3:15 pm

    God is so amazing!He knows the begging to the end,who you are,your begginging,your end,he even knows way more than anyhuman being,he knew who you were before earth,time and space was even here!Now tthat’s what I call knowing.

  3. Sarah Arnold
    January 3, 9:18 pm

    Thanks,Andrew I really want to know more about space.could you share more info,or is that it.

  4. Becka T
    guatemala city
    October 23, 2013, 8:47 pm

    I just returned home to Indiana, USA yesterday from a mission trip in Paten, Guatemala. On our last night in Guatemala city my friend and I found ourselves outside at 12:30 looking up at the sky. I noticed Orion’s belt directly in front of us and remembered reading about the Orionids. I have never seen them before and my astronomy experience only comes from looking up at the stars and using Google sky map haha. As we looked up at orion which was situated in a horizontally well like this… \ … and i noticed two stars aligned to the right with the bottom star of Orion’s belt. There were a series of stars popping up next to them anywhere from 1 to 4 stars at a time. Looking up at them I was mesmerized. Assuming they were the Orionids we watched for almost an hour in which the stars continued to appear and reappear. At one point they were going absolutely nuts. It slowed down and we were about to turn in when a shooting star passed by on the left side of Orion’s belt. Like I said I don’t have much experience in this field besides a personal interest, but I have looked all evening for the answer to what the stars next to orion were doing. I realize the shooting star was in fact one of the Orionid’s but what the heck were the other stars? can you maybe help me explain this

  5. mary
    usa
    October 20, 2013, 3:33 pm

    can’t wait to see this

  6. edwin
    nairobi kenya
    October 20, 2013, 12:59 pm

    wonderful creations of the Almighty God.

  7. Meredith
    Philidaphea
    October 19, 2013, 10:45 am

    I was visiting family in centrel New York about a week ago when I saw some pretty weird clouds. It had just been raing and the clouds looked like brush strokes in the sky. Almost like tiny little cotton balls. I wish I could upload a pic but, ugh, computers. Can anyone match my description?

  8. Joan D
    Colombia
    October 18, 2013, 6:25 pm

    What is the best time to see the meteor shower from Colombia?

  9. Mohd Tarmizi
    Malaysia
    October 18, 2013, 5:05 pm

    Please let me know that if i can see this beautiful sightings in malaysia too an please tell me the exactly time. Thank you so muchfor this useful info !

  10. Alan F
    Scotia, NY
    October 18, 2013, 8:46 am

    Wanderley Silva,

    If you let me know the nearest town to your grandmother’s farm, and the approximate time, I can check for bright satellites on the night of October 15.

    Clear skies, Alan

  11. hira
    October 18, 2013, 7:35 am

    what will happen next

  12. hira
    October 18, 2013, 7:07 am

    is this geography

  13. Tiona McKinney
    October 18, 2013, 2:20 am

    I guess I have another reason to be happy about Friday!

  14. Ash
    Malaysia
    October 18, 2013, 12:14 am

    I’m from Malaysia. I want to know if the Orionid meteor shower visible from Malaysia. I have been waiting for the Perseid meteor shower but I never catch a sight of it . If it is visible, what time is it ?

  15. Babu G. Ranganathan
    October 17, 2013, 10:50 am

    SCIENCE SHOWS THAT THE UNIVERSE CANNOT BE ETERNAL because it could not have sustained itself eternally due to the law of entropy (increasing energy decay, even in an open system). Einstein showed that space, matter, and time all are physical and all had a beginning. Space even produces particles because it’s actually something, not nothing. Even time had a beginning! Time is not eternal. Popular atheistic scientist Stephen Hawking admits that the universe came from nothing but he believes that nothing became something by a natural process yet to be discovered. That’s not rational thinking at all, and it also would be making the effect greater than its cause to say that nothing created something. The beginning had to be of supernatural origin because natural laws and processes do not have the ability to bring something into existence from nothing. What about the Higgs boson (the so-called “God Particle”)? The Higgs boson does not create mass from nothing, but rather it converts energy into mass. Einstein showed that all matter is some form of energy.

    The supernatural cannot be proved by science but science points to a supernatural intelligence and power for the origin and order of the universe. Where did God come from? Obviously, unlike the universe, God’s nature doesn’t require a beginning.

    EXPLAINING HOW AN AIRPLANE WORKS doesn’t mean no one made the airplane. Explaining how life or the universe works doesn’t mean there was no Maker behind them. Natural laws may explain how the order in the universe works and operates, but mere undirected natural laws cannot explain the origin of that order. Once you have a complete and living cell then the genetic code and biological machinery exist to direct the formation of more cells, but how could life or the cell have naturally originated when no directing code and mechanisms existed in nature? Read my Internet article: HOW FORENSIC SCIENCE REFUTES ATHEISM.

    WHAT IS SCIENCE? Science simply is knowledge based on observation. No one observed the universe coming by chance or by design, by creation or by evolution. These are positions of faith. The issue is which faith the scientific evidence best supports.

    Visit my newest Internet site: THE SCIENCE SUPPORTING CREATION

    Babu G. Ranganathan*
    (B.A. Bible/Biology)

    Author of popular Internet article, TRADITIONAL DOCTRINE OF HELL EVOLVED FROM GREEK ROOTS

    *I have given successful lectures (with question and answer period afterwards) defending creation before evolutionist science faculty and students at various colleges and universities. I’ve been privileged to be recognized in the 24th edition of Marquis “Who’s Who in The East” for my writings on religion and science.

  16. Gary Edwards
    Ipswich, Suffolk, UK
    October 17, 2013, 4:29 am

    Hi Wanderley Silva
    I’m taking a guess but the large star you saw crossing the sky and getting bigger and bigger then disappearing May well have been one of two things.
    1. The ISS (International Space Station)
    This can be clearly see with the naked eye looking like a huge star crossing the sky.
    Or
    2. An Iridium Flare
    This is where an Iridium satellite reflects the suns rays from its solar panels while traveling above the earth.
    Both these are great to see and, if you put where you are are into the GoSatWatch APP (I think it’s free) and you will be able to find out exactly when and where to look in the night sky.
    Happy hunting.

  17. Chinta Ezra
    Papua New Guinea
    October 17, 2013, 12:31 am

    Sounds cool & would be a sight! Would these sky events be visible from my country- Papua New Guinea?

  18. someone
    usa
    October 16, 2013, 5:58 pm

    when will we see it in NC?

  19. amazing
    NC
    October 16, 2013, 5:56 pm

    I am really looking forward to this! thx 4 posting it!

  20. Hugh
    Derby Uk
    October 16, 2013, 5:22 pm

    Just seen a shooting star at 10:10pm. Amazing sight

  21. manjunath raju cr
    bangalore
    October 16, 2013, 12:39 pm

    This october(2013) is very special because 76 years once the Lunar Eclipse is coming onto Earth at friday night from 3.10am to 7.15am

  22. Wanderley Silva
    Brazil
    October 16, 2013, 11:38 am

    Last night I was at my grandmother’s farm and the cellular just works outside the house, so I went out to talk to my friend and the, I looked upp into the sky and I saw some big star up in the sky passing so fast and getting bigger at the same time and suddenly It desapeared! So incredible and amazing. I don’t if someone recorded it, it would be awesome to see it again!

  23. Redrick McCoy
    USA
    October 16, 2013, 10:30 am

    Very cool story. I look up tot he stars every night. To know if and where these marvles were to be present, one would have to know the axis of the Earth down to science. Someone such as an Astronomer. What a great job these people and Meterologists have. To be current on so much would be a blessing. Nature and History at its finest.

  24. ANA
    BRAZIL
    October 16, 2013, 8:37 am

    Please, tell me if it’ll be possible to see Orionid Peaks from my contry. Is it necessary any equipment to see?

    Thanks

  25. Hugo Molapo
    South Africa
    October 16, 2013, 6:25 am

    Hi. I guess this are exciting times of our life’s. But some of us will not be able to see the 2062 Halley’s comet. Sad hey.

  26. jessica
    phoenix az
    October 16, 2013, 6:06 am

    Hi I love looking at the sky at night do it every night is the eclips and shootings visible from phoenix if so what time please let me know thanx

  27. anasah
    Doha-Qatar
    October 16, 2013, 4:58 am

    well… i think it’ll be really awesome but
    will i be able to see the Orionid Peaks in the middle of a city?
    i mean i’m living in Doha i don’t know if i’ll be able to see it or not :'(

  28. RHONDA SWIFT
    TX
    October 16, 2013, 3:52 am

    Andrew,
    I know you heard this story already but I am compelled to share with your readers once again.
    Last summer during a meteor shower on Lake Texoma, my boyfriend and I take a drive to the beach to watch the sky, At the exact time the shower was to begin we watched lights come out of then sky.
    On the South shore there were cars flashing their lights, honking their horns, screaming and jumping around.as this vehichle. ( round in shape with lights going around it in a leftward direction around it) and it hovered over the water so very close to where my boyfriend and I were sitting.
    we had positioned ourselves so that we were facing the part of the sky the meteor shower would be coming from. I remember having to look over my right shoulder to watch it drop and dessend into the water… I noticed the lights quickly changed the leftward pattern and just for a second moved in the opposite di8rection. only for the lights positioned toward what I assumed was the front. it quickly backed up and out of the water and rejoined several more high in the sky.
    that’s not the last time I’ve witnessed weird happenings over this lake.
    sky events could be the tale tell sign that everything we’ve been told could be coming to be in our lifetime.

  29. Willis Tapscott
    Anchorage, Alaska
    October 16, 2013, 2:25 am

    Thats about 3 40 Alaska time, will it continue through the night?

  30. BRAHMANAND
    mumbai
    October 16, 2013, 2:12 am

    i m surprise see this image haw can catch ? good timing spend.good to see this image

  31. Azman
    Malaysia
    October 16, 2013, 1:03 am

    i Hope we can see it from Malaysia

  32. Abby
    Philippines
    October 16, 2013, 12:18 am

    Would this be visible in the Philippines?

  33. Johnny Utah
    san quentin
    October 15, 2013, 11:22 pm

    What is the best time to view the meteor shower in Marin Co. California?

  34. Jill W
    Wyoming
    October 15, 2013, 10:10 pm

    Thanks, can’t wait to get to a dark sky location!

  35. Amed Nelson
    Philadelphia
    October 15, 2013, 9:02 pm

    YEs !

  36. Kaili
    Shanghai
    October 15, 2013, 8:06 pm

    Is around 4 o clock I’m the morning a good timer to watch the meteor shower.

  37. Amanda Prestes
    Brasil
    October 15, 2013, 6:12 pm

    Lindo

  38. Your Mum
    your mum's house
    October 15, 2013, 5:48 pm

    ‘Sky Events’ or… as the educated might say ‘Astronomical Events’?

  39. premanand
    India
    October 15, 2013, 5:14 pm

    Thanks For the Information. Waiting 4 Sunday
    ..

  40. Nura haruna
    Nigeria, kano
    October 15, 2013, 4:37 pm

    This moon eclipse is not completely round the globe at thesame time in space.
    Please,how did you collect a data?

  41. chelsie
    N. walpole N.H.
    October 15, 2013, 4:33 pm

    this is AMAZING!!!!! i’ve never seen haley’s comet!

    • Andrew Fazekas
      October 15, 2013, 4:38 pm

      Please keep in mind that the Orionids are tiny bits and pieces that have been shed from Halley’s comet and not the comet itself. We’ll have to wait until 2062 to see it again. Until then we will have to make due with the shooting stars that it has left behind.

  42. syed
    pakistan
    October 15, 2013, 2:11 pm

    very intersting. so good

  43. Paul
    Islas Canarias
    October 15, 2013, 1:57 pm

    Well, check out the dates please, the Orionids will be Sunday 20th not 19th, also spell check METEOR same sentence… please, National Geographic need to be more professional.

    • Andrew Fazekas
      October 15, 2013, 4:39 pm

      Thanks for the catch… Fixed

  44. wilson moncada pluas
    la troncal, cañar, ecuador S.A.
    October 15, 2013, 1:29 pm

    love to have more about everything regarding sky events…galaxies…quasars…black holes….exploration…etc etc….thanks……

  45. pavan kumar rayaprolu
    guntur
    October 15, 2013, 10:39 am

    excellent job good. please go a way this idea is fully use full of every student & every person known this lunar what job yr. any way thank you.

  46. ABC
    India
    October 15, 2013, 9:51 am

    Would the Orionid metoer shower visible from India? Whats would be the time for it ?

    • Andrew Fazekas
      October 15, 2013, 4:40 pm

      The best times to see the meteor shower will be your local time 10 pm Sunday night till the predawn hours of Monday morning.