Hubble’s XDF looks back in time, TWO meteor showers give you double the chance, and the Moon of the Falling Leaves illuminates the autumn landscape.
The Hubble eXtreme Deep Field (XDF)
NASA has recently revealed amazing photos compiled from the ten years its Hubble telescope has been snapping pictures of a very small patch of sky in the constellation Fornax. As the telescope collected faint light over many years, galaxies and other objects more distant than ever before have been revealed. In fact these photos actually allow us to look back in time. The universe is believed to be 13.7 billion years old, and the XDF reveals galaxies that span back 13.2 billion years, so we are looking at these objects as they were 13.2 billion years ago. Read more about this news on the Hubble website.
NASA is planning another project known as the James Webb Space Telescope which will also be aimed at this tiny parcel of space. They hope that this telescope will be able to see even fainter, more distant galaxies that emerged when the universe was only a few hundred million years old. Unbelievable! Scientists obviously have their sights set on witnessing the universe as it was, as close to the time of its conception as possible.
The Draconids and the Orionids Meteor Showers
On October 7 and 8 look high in the northwest sky at dusk toward the constellation Draco. It’s worth taking a look around these dates if the skies are clear since this Draconid Meteor Shower could be a dud but it could be fantastic. Look between the constellations Draco and Cassiopeia. We see this shower because the Earth is passing through the debris from a comet and unexpectedly in 1933 and 1946 observers were astonished as meteors by the hundreds streaked across the night sky. Perhaps this will be the year for such a re-occurrence!
If clouds obscure your view of the Draconids, check the skies before and after October 20 and 21 and perhaps you will have better luck spotting some “shooting stars” from the Orionids Meteor Shower. At this time the Earth passes through the rubble associated with Halley’s Comet. The moon should not be an issue at this time. Check to the southeast after midnight. The peak of the Orionids is before dawn on the 20th or 21st. Generally just keep your head up on any beautiful clear night this month and you might be lucky enough to spot a few meteorites.
Early this month, you can glimpse the planet Mercury with the star Spica close above the western horizon at twilight. You would have to have a clear low view. Mars will also be visible low in the south west just around sunset. Around the 18th, spot Mars with the thin crescent moon. Venus is still the morning “star” in the east before dawn. Jupiter is also low in the morning sky, but will also be visible in the night sky in the constellation Taurus near the star Aldebaran. Saturn will be difficult to spot this month.
The Full Hunter’s Moon
The full moon will rise at 6:01 pm on October 29. This full moon has been referred to as the Full Hunter’s Moon since the fallen leaves have left the bush more transparent. In addition, the crops have been taken from the fields by now, so hunters could more easily sight game such as deer coming out of the woods to feed on any remnants of a crop. This was the time to start storing meat for the long winter. This full moon was also known as Moon of the Falling Leaves, Blood Moon, or Sanguine Moon.