Orionid Meteor Shower Peaks this Weekend!

Starry Night by Steven Karsten

The annual Orionid shower peaks this Saturday, but Earthsky’s page on the Orionid Meteor shower says that Friday night might be the best viewing:

The Orionid meteor shower is expected to peak this weekend, though this year, in 2018, the shower must compete with the glare of the brilliant waxing gibbous moon for much of the night. As is standard for many meteor showers, this shower takes place primarily between midnight and dawn – regardless of your time zone. Typically, the Orionids’ strongest showing comes during the few hours before dawn. offering perhaps 10 to 15 meteors per hour in a dark sky.

The advantage of watching late Friday to Saturday morning – rather than the following nights – is that there is less moonlight to obstruct the show.

The Orionids stem from bits and pieces from the most famous of all comets, Comet Halley, pictured above. The picture shows Comet Halley itself at its 1910 visit. The comet last visited Earth in 1986 and will return next in 2061.

As Comet Halley moves through space, it leaves debris in its wake that strikes Earth’s atmosphere most fully around October 20-22, every year. The comet is nowhere near, but, around this time every year, Earth is intersecting the comet’s orbit.

If the meteors originate from Comet Halley, why are they called the Orionids? The answer is that meteors in annual showers are named for the point in our sky from which they appear to radiate. The radiant point for the Orionids is in the direction of the constellation Orion the Hunter. Hence the name.

View Steve’s photo of Orion taken during the 2012 Geminid showers on Flickr and see more of his night photography on Flickr!

More meteoric fun on Michigan in Pictures!

 

Lyrid Meteor Shower AND Northern Lights this weekend!!

Lyrid Meteor … sprinkle, photo by Ken Scott Photography

I got an alert this morning that the Kp levels that predict the likelihood of northern lights is at 5 to 6 over the next two nights making the aurora a strong possibility for much of Michigan. Lots about the northern lights on Michigan in Pictures.

Now let’s add into the mix the annual Lyrid Meteor Shower. It’s a more variable shower than the Perseid or Leonid showers, but it has still produced some impressive showers in the past AND we are blessed with a waxing moon that will make viewing a lot better. EarthSky shares:

The annual Lyrid meteor shower peaks this weekend! It’s active each year from about April 16 to 25. In 2018, the peak of this shower – which tends to come in a burst and usually lasts for less than a day – is expected to fall on the morning of April 22, with little or no interference from the waxing moon.

No matter where you are on Earth, expect the greatest number of meteors to fall during the few hours before dawn.

In a moonless sky, you might see from about 10 to 20 Lyrid meteors an hour at the shower’s peak on the morning of April 22. In 2018, the waxing moon will set before the primetime morning hours. An outburst of Lyrid meteors is always a possibility, too, though no Lyrid outburst is predicted for 2018.

In 1982, American observers did see an outburst of nearly 100 Lyrid meteors per hour. Around 100 meteors per hour were seen in Greece in 1922 and from Japan in 1945.

Much more including precise viewing tips at EarthSky!

Ken writes that (back in April of 2016) he shot over a 3 hour period in hopes to catch the meteor ‘shower’ and only caught this one streaker. View his photo bigger, see more in his Skies Above album, and visit Ken Scott Photography to view & purchase work!

September’s Corn Moon is full tonight!

Reflections of the Moon, photo by TP Mann

Space.com’s article on September’s Full Corn Moon says in part:

Look up tonight (Sept. 6) to see the Full Corn Moon glowing in the sky. If you have binoculars or a telescope, you can also see the planet Neptune glowing faintly nearby.

The moon reached its fullest phase early this morning, at 3:02 a.m. EDT (0702 GMT), but it will still appear full to casual observers this evening. Look for it in the southern sky in the constellation of Aquarius, the Water Bearer.

Usually, the full moon in September is known as the Harvest Moon, but this year that name is reserved for October’s full moon. That’s because the Harvest Moon is the full moon that falls closest to the autumnal equinox, which occurs on Sept. 22 this year.

Check out the photo of the full moon over Torch Lake background bigtacular and see more in TP’s Night Shots slideshow.

Lots more about the moon on Michigan in Pictures.

Starry Night at Little Sable Point

Little Sable Point Starry Night, photo by malderink

“Be clearly aware of the stars and infinity on high. Then life seems almost enchanted after all.”
― Vincent van Gogh

Big Sable Point yesterday, Little Sable Point today – is there a Medium Sable Point for tomorrow? ;)

View the photo background bigtacular and see more in malderink’s slideshow.

Night … and light

night, photo by kare hav

While the lights of distant Bay City across Saginaw Bay from Point Lookout make for a beautiful photo, I feel for the photographer who wishes they’d shut them off at night.

If you’re interested in making your community more “night friendly” check out How to Start a Local Dark Skies Group from the International Dark Sky Association. In addition to miles and miles in the UP, Michigan has six designated Dark Sky Preserves and the Headlands International Dark Sky Park.

View the photo background big and see more in kare hav’s Pt. Lookout/AuGres slideshow.

American Dream

Bay City Fireworks Festival, photo by Jeff Caverly

“There are those who will say that the liberation of humanity, the freedom of man and mind is nothing but a dream. They are right. It is the American Dream.”
-Archibald MacLeish

View the photo background big and see lots more from Bay City’s Fireworks Festival in Jeff’s slideshow!

Moons Big & Small: Perigee & Apogee Moons

A comparison of the perigee and apogee Moons of 2011.

Moons Big and Small, photo by Kevin

Last night I learned that the full moon was at apogee, and with all the love I’ve given to supermoons, I figured that I should throw a bone to the tiny ones as well. Kevin is a regular on Michigan in Pictures with his stunning photos of the night sky. He made a comparison of the perigee and apogee Moons of 2011 and shared this explanation:

The Full Moon of October 2011 was near apogee, which is the furthest point in the Moon’s orbit of the Earth. Back in March, you may recall, the Moon was at it’s closest point in its orbit to Earth, and the media dubbed it the “Supermoon.”

According to several sources, the difference in size between the March Full Moon and the October Full Moon is 12.3%. Why is there such a difference, you may ask?

Well, the Moon’s orbit around the Earth is elliptical, just as the Earth’s is around the Sun. That means that as the object – the Moon in this case – orbits the “parent” object (the Earth) it will never be the same distance away.

The image I put together shows the difference between the size of the Moon at perigee (March 2011) and apogee (October 2011). This comparison makes the size difference quite clear.

Kevin adds that both images of the Moon were taken with exactly the same equipment. View it bigger and see more in his massive The Moon slideshow.

PS: This full moon is the strawberry moon, and you can click that link for more about that and (unsurprisingly) a photo from Kevin!