DENVER – If you thought last night’s moon was cool, you may want to buckle up because the Harvest Moon is tonight, October 5, and it will surely not disappoint.
The Harvest Moon is so-named because it is the full moon that occurs closest to the September Equinox, when the moon at the end of the growing season would help farmers work later into the night thanks to all that coming from our closest natural satellite, according to Storm Shield Meteorologist Jason Meyers.
But this astronomical event is just of nearly a dozen that’s happening through the rest of the year – most of which you’ll be able to see from your backyard.
So, dust off the ol’ binoculars and plan a late-night trip to the mountains because these celestial events are must-sees.
October 8 – Draconids Meteor Shower
This minor meteor shower produces about 10 meteors per hour, and is best viewed in the early evening hours instead of early morning. Best viewing location for the Draconids will be far away from the city, away from all this light pollution near the Draco constellation.
October 19 – Uranus at Opposition
This unfortunately-named planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun, making it brighter than at any other time of the year. Because the planet is 1.6 billion miles away from the Earth, you’ll only be able to see it as a tiny blue-green dot in the cosmos (unless, of course, you have a really, really good and powerful telescope).
October 21, 22 – Orionids Meteor Shower
The Orionids produces about 20 meteors per hour as its peak from dust grains left behind by comet Halley. This meteor shower runs from each year from October 2 to November 7, but peaks the night of October 21 and into the morning of October 22. Meteors will be best seen from the Orion constellation.
November 4, 5 – Taurids Meteor Shower
The Taurids generate between five to 10 meteors per hour, running annually from September 7 to December 10; reaching its peak in 2017 on the night of November 4. Astronomers say the best viewing opportunities will be just after midnight from the Taurus constellation, away from the light pollution of the city.
November 13 – Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter
Both Venus and Jupiter will form a planetary conjunction (or alignment) and will appear to be very close together on November 13. Astronomers say the two bright planets will appear to be only 0.3 degrees apart! Look for this coupling in the eastern sky just before sunrise.
November 17, 18 – Leonids Meteor Shower
The Leonids can produce up to 15 meteors per hour at its peak. The thing about the Leonids is that it can produce hundreds of meteor per hour, but this only happens about ever 33 years – with the last occurrence in 2001. You can best view the Leonids from the constellation Leo during the night of November 17 and the morning of November 18.
November 24 – Mercury at greatest Eastern elongation
The planet Mercury will reach its greatest eastern elongation of 22 degrees from the Sun, meaning it will be the best time to view the planet since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the evening sky, according to astronomers. Look for Mercury low in the western sky just after sunset.
December 3 – Supermoon
The only Supermoon of 2017 will look brighter and larger than usual on the night of December 3. It will also be the only Supermoon of 2017. So make sure you don’t miss it!
December 13, 14 – Geminids Meteor Shower
Called the “king of meteor showers,” the Geminids is considered among astronomers and non-astronomers to be the best shower in the dark sky, as it produces up to 120 multi-colored meteors per hour at its peak. The Geminids Meteor Shower will peak on the night of December 13 and the morning of December 14. Best viewing time will be after midnight and meteors will radiate from the Gemini constellation, but can be viewed elsewhere in the night sky.
December 21 – The December Solstice
The first day of winter in the northern hemisphere arrives at 10:28 a.m. Thursday, December 21. #WinterIsHere
December 21, 22 – Ursids Meteor Shower
The minor Ursids meteor shower produces about 5-10 meteors per hours and will peak on the night of December 21 and the morning of December 22. Best viewing opportunities will be just after midnight away from the city. You can find the meteors radiating from the Ursa Minor constellation.