No trick, just a treat: Two meteor showers, the Draconids and the Orionids can been seen in October
This month we are treated to two meteor showers, the Draconids peaking between October 8th-9th and the Orionids between the 21st-22nd. The Draconids’ parent comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner is responsible for the meteor shower which tends to produce only a handful of meteors per hour.
Unlike most other meteor showers, the Draconids are best viewed just after dusk when the constellation Draco is at its highest point in the night sky. To locate the constellation, look high over the western horizon to locate the bright star of Vega, Draco is positioned to the lower right. The meteors will appear to come from the direction of the constellation, known as the radiant point. The peak of this meteor shower is close to the new moon, therefore moonlight will present minimal interference.
The Orionids, on the other hand, are produced by the infamous Halley’s Comet and are best viewed in the few hours before dawn on October 22nd. The radiant of this meteor shower is located in the prominent constellation of Orion which is at its highest in the southern sky just before dawn. Unfortunately, the moon will just be past its full phase presenting significant interference throughout the night.
Not forgetting the planets, four of the eight are easily visible during the month of October. Towards the end of the month (27th) just before the Sun rises, Mercury will be visible low in the eastern morning sky.
Because it is the innermost planet it is often in the glare of the Sun so this is a good time to see this elusive planet.
In contrast, the bright planet Venus, will appear very close to the crescent moon just after sunset (7.00) on the 9th October. To observe this conjunction, you will need an unobstructed view of the western horizon. Saturn and Jupiter are also still shining brightly in the evening sky throughout the month. All of these planets are easily visible to the unaided eye.
However, if you have a telescope point it towards Jupiter on the evening of the 4th October at approximately 8pm.
Limerick Astronomy Club email limerickastronomyclub @gmail.com
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