Skywatch: October 25th – 31st celestial events

Weather Blog

COURTESY: NOAA

Below is a list of celestial events occurring this coming week (October 25th – 31st) composed by NASA:

October 25

On Sunday Oct. 25, 2020, the planet Mercury will be passing between Earth and the Sun as seen from the Earth, called inferior conjunction. Mercury will be shifting from the evening sky to the morning sky and will begin emerging from the glow of dawn on the eastern horizon about four mornings later (depending upon viewing conditions).

October 29-30

Thursday morning, Oct. 29, 2020, will be the first morning that the planet Mercury will be above the horizon in the east-southeast 30 minutes before sunrise (an approximation of when it might first be visible in the glow of dawn).

Thursday night, Oct. 29, 2020, is the second of the two Japanese Tsukimi or “Moon-Viewing” festivals, which takes place on the 13th day of the lunar month and celebrates the viewing of the waxing gibbous Moon a few days before it is full.

On Thursday night into Friday morning, Oct. 29 to 30, 2020, the bright planet Mars will appear near the nearly full waxing Moon. As evening twilight ends (at 7:09 p.m. EDT for the Washington, DC area), the Moon will appear about 17 degrees above the eastern horizon, with Mars appearing above the Moon. The Moon will reach its highest in the sky for the night around midnight with Mars to the right. Mars will set first in the west on Friday morning at 5:54 AM, with the Moon setting at 6:27 AM, just a little before morning twilight begins.

Friday afternoon, Oct. 30, 2020, at 2:46 p.m. EDT, the Moon will be at apogee, its farthest from the Earth for this orbit.

Sometime between Friday, Oct. 30, 2020 and Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, Near Earth Object (2018 VP1), between 2 and 4 meters (6 to 13 feet) in size will most likely pass the Earth somewhere between 0.02 and 10.0 lunar distances (nominally 1.1), traveling at 9.71 kilometers per second (21,720 miles per hour). Nominally the closest approach would be on Nov. 2, 2020, at 11:33 UTC but this has 3 days, 7 hours, 11 minutes uncertainty due to the lack of observations on such a small object. This object could have a 0.41% or 1 in 240 chance of entering the Earth’s atmosphere on Nov. 2, 2020, most likely over the Pacific Ocean if it did. An object this size would break up harmlessly high above the surface with only small pieces falling as debris after the breakup. The mass of this object is estimated to be between 100 and 1,000 times less than the approximately 20 m (66 ft) object that entered the Earth’s atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013.

October 31 – The Next Full Moon

The full Moon after next will occur on the morning of Halloween, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. We currently divide the year into four seasons based upon the solstices and equinoxes, with winter beginning on the winter solstice in December. This approximates winter as the quarter of the year with the coldest temperatures. Much of pre-Christian northern Europe celebrated “cross-quarter days” halfway between the solstices and equinoxes, and divided the seasons on these days. Using this older definition, winter was the quarter of the year with the shortest daily periods of daylight, with autumn ending and winter beginning with Samhain, traditionally celebrated on October 31st or November 1st (the middle of our fall). Our Halloween customs are thought to have come from these earlier celebrations of the end of fall and start of winter.

COURTESY: NASA – Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

For more information, visit NASA’s ‘Solar System Exploration’ webpage.

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