Stellar showers in the coming months

Keep your eyes on the night sky

30 September 2021 | Events

Grootfontein • [email protected]

A somewhat unusual meteor shower will be seen early in October – unusual in the sense that it will be visible early evenings, rather than early mornings, like other meteor showers. Also, the New Moon will create ideal, dark evenings this year to better see the Giacobinides meteor shower.
The somewhat smaller shower marks a spectacular year-end, during which the annual Orionides, Leonides, Geminides and Ursides meteor showers can be seen from October to December.
Giacobinides will reach its peak between 8 and 9 October this year. Although smaller than other meteor showers, it can deliver up to ten shooting stars per hour!
The shower is caused by dust particles left behind by comet 21P Giacobini-Zinner. The comet was first discovered in 1900 and takes about 6.6 years to orbit the sun once. The shower comes from the direction of the Draconis constellation, although it can appear anywhere in the night sky.

Later in October
The Orionides meteor shower follows later in October and reaches its peak by the 21st; Leonides arrives in November; and a particularly spectacular Geminides and the smaller Ursides meteor showers follow in December.
The Geminides reach their peak between 13 and 14 December, with up to 120 shooting stars visible per hour - provided the night sky is not cloudy.
Unlike most other meteor showers, the Geminides shower is not caused by a comet, but by an asteroid - the 3200 Phaethon. This asteroid takes about 1.4 years to orbit the sun.
To be able to see the Giacobinides meteor shower, one has to look from a dark area, away from city lights, in a north-northwest direction from 19:00 to 21:00.

Planetary sightings
Currently, Jupiter and Saturn are also clearly visible in the evening sky, with both planets already rising in the afternoon, shining at their brightest between 20:00 and 22:00 and then disappearing again in the early morning hours.
Venus is currently also visible, but rises in the morning, shines through the day and descends shortly after 22:00. Other planets such as Mars, Neptune and Mercury are much harder to see, while it is possible to see Uranus. - Sources: www.timeanddate.com, earthsky.org

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