Astronomy Calendar


Check out what's happening in the sky!

This calendar of celestial events is frequently updated.

 

Full moon in the night sky over the museum building.Image: UAF photo by Todd Paris, 2014.

 

  • October 6 - New Moon. The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 3:05 am Alaska time. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
  • October 7 - Draconids Meteor Shower. The Draconids is a minor meteor shower producing about 10 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet 21P Giacobini-Zinner The Draconids is an unusual shower in that the best viewing is in the early evening instead of early morning like most other showers. The shower runs annually from October 6-10 and peaks this year on the the night of the 7th. This year, the nearly new moon will leave dark skies for what should be an excellent show. Best viewing will be in the early evening from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Draco, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
  • October 20 - Full Moon. The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 6:57 am Alaska time. This full moon was known by some Native American tribes as the Hunters Moon because at this time of year the leaves are falling and the game is fat and ready to hunt. This moon has also been known as the Travel Moon and the Blood Moon.
  • October 21, 22 - Orionids Meteor Shower. The Orionids is an average shower producing up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Halley. The shower runs annually from October 2 to November 7. It peaks this year on the night of October 21 and the morning of October 22. The full moon will be a problem this year for the Orionids. Its glare will block out all but the brightest meteors. But if you are patient, you should still be able to catch a few good ones. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Orion, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
  • October 25 - Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation. The planet Mercury reaches greatest western elongation of 18.4 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the planet low in the eastern sky just before sunrise.
  • October 29 - Venus at Greatest Eastern Elongation. The planet Venus reaches greatest eastern elongation of 47 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Venus since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the evening sky. Look for the bright planet in the western sky after sunset.
  • November 4 - New Moon. The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 1:15 pm Alaska time. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
  • November 4, 5 - Taurids Meteor Shower. The Taurids is a minor meteor shower producing about 5-10 meteors per hour. It is unusual in that it consists of two separate streams. The first is produced by dust grains left behind by Asteroid 2004 TG10. The second stream is produced by debris left behind by Comet 2P Encke. The shower runs annually from September 7 to December 10. It peaks this year on the the night of November 4. The new moon will leave dark skies this year for what should be an excellent show. Best viewing will be just after midnight from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Taurus, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
  • November 5 - Uranus at Opposition. The blue-green planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. It will be brighter than any other time of the year and will be visible all night long. This is the best time to view Uranus. Due to its distance, it will only appear as a tiny blue-green dot in all but the most powerful telescopes.
  • November 17, 18 - Leonids Meteor Shower. The Leonids is an average shower, producing up to 15 meteors per hour at its peak. This shower is unique in that it has a cyclonic peak about every 33 years where hundreds of meteors per hour can be seen. That last of these occurred in 2001. The Leonids is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tempel-Tuttle. The shower runs annually from November 6-30. It peaks this year on the night of the 17th and morning of the 18th. Unfortunately the nearly full moon will dominate the sky this year, blocking all but the brightest meteors. But if you are patient, you should still be able to catch a few good ones. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Leo, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
  • November 18 - Full Moon. The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 11:59 pm Alaska time. This full moon was known by some Native American tribes as the Beaver Moon because this was the time of year to set the beaver traps before the swamps and rivers froze. It has also been known as the Frosty Moon and the Dark Moon.
  • November 19 - Partial Lunar Eclipse. A partial lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the Earth's partial shadow, or penumbra, and only a portion of it passes through the darkest shadow, or umbra. During this type of eclipse a part of the Moon will darken as it moves through the Earth's shadow. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of eastern Russia, Japan, the Pacific Ocean, North America, Mexico, Central America, and parts of western South America. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)

More astronomy viewing resources:

Check the aurora forecast for Interior Alaska,  courtesy of the Geophysical Institute.

Use star wheels and astrolabes to find celestial bodies!

Sea and Sky has a yearly calendar to help you plan future astronomy viewings.

Check the weather on Mars, courtesy of the InSight lander.

 

Green aurora lights in the night sky.

Image: UAF photo by Todd Paris, 2015.


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This project was funded under NASA cooperative agreement NNX16AL65A. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
All photos from NASA unless otherwise credited.