Look Skyward: Cosmic Sights in October

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This month will host a number of striking nighttime sights. If you’re a lover of all things cosmic and eye-catching, remember to cast your gaze skyward this month. Here are some of the most breath-taking sights in the night sky you’ll want to keep your eyes open for.

The Red Planet

Tonight, October 13, 2020, our neighbor Mars will be the closest to Earth it’ll be all year. The Red Planet will be high in the sky, visible and brighter than at any other point throughout the calendar year. The nearby planet will be glowing a reddish-orange color, and will be visible in the sky to the East shortly after sunset.

As the night bears on, the planet will be visible higher in the sky. It might look like a particularly bright star to the naked eye. However, if you have a backyard telescope, you’ll be able to make out more details of the craggy, arid planet in the distance.

Mars is thought to have at one point been home to water like that seen on Earth, which has captured the imaginations of stargazers for years.

Orionids

The Orionids meteor shower will be peaking through October 20 through the evening of October 21. During this period, you can expect to see as many as 20 meteors shooting through the sky per hour. The meteor shower will be visible to the naked eye, and will likely be clearly visible from any elevated position.

While these events are sometimes called shooting stars, they’re actually not stars at all. Instead, they’re pieces of cosmic debris that get caught in Earth’s gravitational pull and fall into the atmosphere. As they do, the universal constant of friction forces them to heat up tremendously, and their entry force results in them burning up into dust as they fall.

Halloween Full Moon

Finally, the last night of October will see a full moon. That’s right, All Hallows Eve, that sacred evening of all things otherworldly and spooky, will have the most iconic symbol of witches and ghouls hanging overhead. This is the first time since 2001 that Halloween has had a full moon.

This has been an exceedingly bizarre year, and some mystical-minded people have pointed out this unusual occurrence as yet another point in the strange calendar year.

However, even from a strictly scientific standpoint, full moons in Autumn tend to be very clear and bright. As such, this will be a striking sight in the night sky as children go door to door to spook up some candy.