Astronomy Minute: October 2020

By Russ Hanson

It’s Autumn, so the cool clear nights can make for great “seeing” opportunities. Mars will be in opposition on October 13. That is, our faster orbit will swing us past Mars on that date. Since we will be closer to Mars, it will appear very bright. I was up before dawn on one of those clear and chilly mornings recently and was surprised by how bright the red planet was (it actually looks orange). Where to look?

It will be approximately opposite the sun for weeks before and after opposition. Secondly, you’ll probably see a lot of news articles about the Blue Moon on October 31st (Halloween). Yawn. Full moons are nice, but having a second one in one month is more of a calendar anomaly than a celestial event. Lastly, look for the Orionid meteor shower the night of Oct. 20-21. Orion should rise in the east around midnight, so it’s a late night/early morning event. The moon won’t interfere this year. I have put my order in for clear skies.

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