Those who love the magic of driving out away from the city lights to look up into the vast darkness and watch meteors shoot across the night sky are in for a treat as not one but two meteor showers take place in October 2022.

More Than a Shooting Star

Often called shooting stars, meteors can be seen with the naked eye as they blaze through the night sky, but what exactly is a meteor, and what makes a meteor shower? According to NASA, meteors are nothing more than space rocks, and the friction created as it moves through the Earth's atmosphere generates heat. A lot of these rocks all at once are called meteor showers.

That bright streak is not actually the rock, but rather the glowing hot air as the hot rock zips through the atmosphere.

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Silhouette of young couple watching Meteor Shower. Nigh Sky.
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Flying Rocks?

The idea of intergalactic rocks hurling towards Earth sounds a little scary, but NASA says that we really don't have anything to worry about.

The meteoroids are usually small, from dust particle to boulder size. They are almost always small enough to quickly burn up in our atmosphere, so there's little chance any of them will strike Earth's surface.

 

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How To Watch a Meteor Shower

You will want to find someplace away from the lights of the city. The darker the area you're in, the better. It can take nearly 20 minutes for your eyes to fully adjust to the dark, allowing you to see the night sky more clearly, according to EarthSky.org. Be sure you allow yourself time to acclimate to the dark and avoid other light sources like phones or flashlights. You don't typically need any additional gear or lenses to view most meteor showers either.

When To See A Meteor Shower

There are a number of meteor showers that take place over the course of a calendar year. The Geminids and Leonids meteor showers are two of the most well-known and they take place annually beginning around mid-November. Fortunately, we don't have to wait that long to see shooting stars soon.

October 2022 Meteor Showers

October promises to be a busy month for stargazers with two different meteor showers expected to light up the night sky. Here's what to watch for.

Beautiful night sky, the Milky Way, moon and the trees.
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Draconids Peaks October 8th

The Draconids Meteor Shower will begin to peak October 8, 2022, and continue through October 10, 2022. While visible mostly in the late evening, it won't create more than a handful of shooting stars per hour. NASA says it is caused by Earth's collision with debris from a comet that appears to originate and travel from a place in the sky near the constellation known as Draco the Dragon. According to NASA,

The Draconid meteors are caused when Earth collides with bits of debris shed by periodic comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner (and that’s why this shower used to be called the Giacobinids). The comet has a 6½-year-long orbit that periodically carries it near Jupiter. Ordinarily, celestial dynamicists would expect the planet’s powerful gravity to scatter anything in its vicinity into varying and unpredictable orbits. But they believe that a stream of particles, ejected in 1900, is still largely intact.

 

Orionid Peaks October 20th

The Orionid Meteor Shower will offer a bit more celestial action than the Draconids, producing approximately 15 meteors per hour. These will be most easily seen during the pre-dawn hours and will take place from late September until late November, peaking from October 20th through 21st. According to EarthSky, the Orionids can produce some really bright fireballs in the night sky. They say that the Orinoids actually come as a result of Halley's Comet.

The Orionid meteors that we observe come from Halley’s Comet. This comet orbits the sun every 76 years or so, and like steam coming from a locomotive, dust particles are expelled from the comet’s nucleus and are left behind in its path. We intercept this path in late October of each year. The nucleus of the comet loses between 3 to 10 feet (1-3 meters) of material on each passage through the inner solar system. Measuring 5 by 9 miles (8 by 15 km) in size, it can handle eons of orbits around the sun.

 

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Before You Go

Before you head out to watch the meteor showers, it is a good idea to have an idea of a safe place to view them, particularly if you won't be viewing them from your own backyard. You'll want to be sure that you don't inadvertently find yourself trespassing while trying to get a good view of the night sky. And, since it is midwestern summer, bug spray might be a good idea before you head outside. However and wherever you end up stargazing, I hope when you see one of the meteors that you pause to enjoy the magic of the moment, and don't forget to make a wish.

[Source: amsmeteors.org]

Must See: Astrophotography Taken Over Southern Illinois Zinnia Field

See beautiful images of the night sky over a zinnia field located in Redelman Orchards located in Southern Illinois. The spectacular photos were captured by Illinois photographers Grant Twiss and John O'Connell.

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