Special celestial treat awaits skygazers

Manasi Saraf Joshi
Saturday, 20 October 2018

Skygazers will witness Orionids Meteor Shower, opposition of Uranus & Hunters’ Moon over next 3 days

Pune: As the monsoon has just withdrawn, this time of the year is the most exciting and wonderful period for skygazers and the smallest event motivates them to take out their telescopes and camp on terraces or hillocks for the night.

The Orionids Meteor Shower, followed by opposition of Uranus and Hunters’ Moon will be seen straight from October 21-22, 23 and 24 respectively.

Arvind Paranjpye,  Director, Nehru Planetarium, Nehru Centre, Mumbai while talking to Sakal Times said, “As the Sun is traveling through the southern hemisphere, the Moon can be seen in the sky for a longer duration. This gives an opportunity to watch the Moon for a longer time. Similarly, these days as the monsoon has withdrawn, the night skies are clear.”

About the Orionids Meteor Shower, he said, “This time the Orionids will be a very poor shower producing up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by dust grains left behind by Halley’s Comet, which has been known and observed since ancient times. 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 nearly full moon will block some of the fainter meteors this year, but the Orionids tend to be fairly bright so it could still be a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Orion, but can appear anywhere in the sky,” said the The Sky website. 
Paranjpye said, “The opposition of Uranus is on October 23 which means Sun, Earth and Uranus will in one line. Uranus is the farthest planet for us, but on this day mathematically speaking the distance between Uranus and full moon will be only at 5 degrees angle and thus will be visible at 6.16 am.” 

“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,” said the Sky website.

Commenting on the Hunters’ Moon phenomenon on October 24, Paranjpye said, “This term was more in use in Europe, especially in England where on a full moon night in the month of October, hunting foxes while riding on horses was a favorite game. Thus, the full moon night in October was important as in months of November, December and January, the foxes go hiding because of snow.”

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