Friday, November 16, 2018

The Ellensburg WA sky for the week of 11/17/18

Saturday:  Do you want to learn more about what goes on at night in the natural world? You can at a free event called Nature of Night on the CWU campus, today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Go to the Science Building at the intersection of Wildcat Way and 11th Avenue, J-9 on the map found at http://www.cwu.edu/facility/campus-map. There will be planetarium shows, fun nighttime projects, animals, cookies and much more. The College of the Sciences and the Kittitas Environmental Education Network (KEEN) are putting on this event. Go to cwu.edu/sciences for more information.
If you missed the Leonid meteor shower early this morning, you can still catch the peak tomorrow morning. These meteors appear to come from a point in the constellation Leo the lion. This point is about one fist held upright and at arm’s length above the east-northeast horizon at midnight tonight. You can follow this point throughout the night and into the morning, as it will remain about one fist above the bright star Regulus. Go to https://earthsky.org/?p=29831 to read everything you need to know about the Leonid meteor shower. But read quickly because these meteors travel at up to 150,000 miles per hour.

Sunday: Are you disappointed because you are not going anywhere for Thanksgiving? Why not take a (virtual) trip to outer space using Google’s new visualization tool called 100,000 Stars. It shows the stars in our neighborhood in a very good 3-D simulation. The Sun is initially at the center. If you zoom in, you can click on neighboring stars and learn more about them. Go to http://stars.chromeexperiments.com/ for the simulation. It works best on a Chrome browser.

Monday: Saturn is one fist above the southwest horizon and Mars is three fists above the south-southeast horizon at 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday: So, you are not into virtual vacations like the Google Simulation, hmmm? How about a vacation to the recently discovered Super Earth sized planet orbiting the closest single star to our Sun? Astronomers working with the European Southern Observatory discovered that Barnard’s Star, a red dwarf star only 6 light-years away, has a planet about three times the mass of the Earth. Even though Barnard’s Star is very dim, it is heavily studied because it is the star with the largest proper motion. It moves through the night sky more than any other star.  Don’t expect a warm vacation. This planet receives only 2% of the energy from its star as we receive from the Sun. For more information about the discovery, and to possibly book a trip, go to http://www.portaltotheuniverse.org/news/view/658855/.  Barnard’s Star is about one fist above the west horizon at 7 p.m., just above the fairly bright star Cebalrai.

Wednesday: Are you thankful that you live in a solar system with multiple planets? You should be. A giant planet like Jupiter cleans up planetary debris that could have collided with Earth and hindered the formation of complex life. Any inhabitants of the planets orbiting Upsilon Andromedae are thankful for this, as well. Upsilon Andromedae, a star in the constellation Andromeda, was the first Sun-like star discovered to have multiple planets orbiting it. So far, all of its planets are giant planets like Jupiter. But, the system is likely to also contain smaller planets. The dim star, but certainly not its planets, is barely visible straight overhead at 9 p.m. Jupiter is lost in the glare of the setting

Thursday: Some of us have a lot to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. But, probably not as much as Andromeda had to be thankful for. According to Greek mythology, the beautiful princess Andromeda was chained to a rock next to the ocean. Cetus the sea monster was about to devour her in order to punish her family. Her mother Queen Cassiopeia and her father King Cepheus didn’t know what to do. It seemed that all was lost. But, along came Andromeda’s boyfriend, the great warrior Perseus. Even though Perseus’ standing as the son of King Zeus and the slayer of Medusa was probably enough to win Andromeda under normal circumstances, Andromeda’s impending death-by-sea-monster was not a normal circumstance. So, Perseus drove his sword into the sea monster’s neck and killed it. This was the first time in recorded history that a set of parents actually welcomed an uninvited Thanksgiving visit from the boyfriend. Perseus is about five fists above the east-northeast horizon and Andromeda is about seven fists above the east horizon at 7 p.m.

Friday: Venus is one and a half fists above the southeast horizon at 6:30 a.m. The bright star Spica is about a thumb-width to the right of Venus.

The positional information in this column about stars and planets is typically accurate for the entire week. For up to date information about the night sky, go to https://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/planner.cfm. 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Ellensburg WA sky for the week of 11/10/18


Saturday:  The Northern Taurid meteor shower peaks tonight and tomorrow night. These are slow moving meteors that result in the occasional fireball. The Taurid meteor showers produce a few bright meteors every hour. The waxing crescent Moon sets earlier in the evening so it won’t be much of a problem. These meteors appear to come from a point in Taurus the bull, near the open star cluster called the Pleiades. This point is about three fists held upright and at arm’s length above the east horizon at 8 p.m. You can follow this point throughout the night, as it will remain one fist above the V-shaped Hyades Cluster with its bright star Aldebaran (pronounced Al-deb’-a-ran). Meteors are tiny rocks that burn up in the atmosphere when the Earth runs into them. These rocks are broken off parts of Comet 2P/Encke. For more information, go to https://earthsky.org/?p=136475.

Sunday: We wish you a Merry Martinmas. We wish you a Merry Martinmas. We wish you a Merry Martinmas. And a happy Friday. Martinmas is a holiday in many parts of the world commemorating Saint Martin of Tours. He was buried on November 11, 397. What does this have to astronomy? Not much except that the celebration on November 11 often doubles as a cross-quarter day celebration, a day that is halfway between an equinox and a solstice. Also, according to an agricultural calendar, November 11 marks the practical beginning of winter.
Saturn is about a half a fist to the lower right of the Moon at 5 p.m. They are one and a half fists above the southwest horizon.

Monday: Jupiter and Mercury are getting lost in the glare of the Sun. At 4:45, right after the Sun sets, look just above the southwest horizon. Mercury is about a half a hist above due southwest and Jupiter (the brighter of the two) is lower and a little west of southwest.

Tuesday: Imagine Opie and Andy Taylor walking down the dirt path at night to that fishing hole in the sky. They’d probably be looking to catch Pisces, the two fish already conveniently tied together with two ropes. The ropes are connected at the star Alrescha, Arabic for “the cord”. Alrescha is about a half a fist to the lower right of the Moon at 10:30 p.m. The fish are attached to lines of stars that branch out at one o’clock and three o’clock from Alrescha. By the way, “The Fishing Hole”, The Andy Griffith Show’s theme song, was rated the 20th best TV theme song of all time by ign.com. That’s too low of a ranking in my opinion.

Wednesday: Mars is three fists above due south at 6:30 p.m.

Thursday: Lieutenant Worf, the Klingon Starfleet officer on Star Trek: The Next Generation, might say “Today is a good day to die.” But Deneb, the bright supergiant star in Cygnus the Swan would say “two million years from now is a good day to die.” This may seem like a long time. But, compared to many stars, two million years from now is as about close as tomorrow. For example, the Sun will last about five billion years. Small stars known as red dwarfs may last trillions of years. Prepare your astronomically short goodbyes to Deneb tonight at 7 o’clock when it is seven fists above the west horizon.

Friday: The Leonid meteor shower peaks early tomorrow and Sunday mornings. These meteors appear to come from a point in the constellation Leo the lion. This point is about one fist held upright and at arm’s length above the east-northeast horizon at midnight tonight. You can follow this point throughout the night and into the morning, as it will remain about one fist above the bright star Regulus. The Moon will be below the horizon nearly the whole night so you should see a pretty good show. The Leonid meteors are particles from the tail of Comet Tempel-Tuttle, a comet discovered by Ernst Tempel and Horace Parnell Tuttle in 1866. These are exceptionally fast moving meteors – over 150,000 miles per hour! Go to https://earthsky.org/?p=29831 to read everything you need to know about the Leonid meteor shower. As your Mother might say, dress warm and sit in a comfortable chair for maximum enjoyment.
The Nature of Night event takes place tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Science Building at the intersection of Wildcat Way and 11th Avenue, J-9 on the map found at http://www.cwu.edu/facility/campus-map.. There will be planetarium shows, fun nighttime projects, animals, cookies and much more. Go to cwu.edu/sciences for more information.

The positional information in this column about stars and planets is typically accurate for the entire week. For up to date information about the night sky, go to https://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/planner.cfm.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Ellensburg WA sky for the week of 11/3/18

Saturday:  You’ll be getting an extra hour this weekend. What are you going to do with it? I suggest you learn some astronomy. The CWU Physics Department and the College of the Sciences is hosting its monthly First Saturday planetarium show today from noon to 1 p.m. CWU physics major Jessica Kisner will give a presentation about Solar System moons. The show is free and open to all ages. There will be a show at noon on the first Saturday of every month during the school year hosted by different CWU astronomers and astronomy educators. The CWU Lydig Planetarium is room 101 in Science Phase II, just off the corner of 11th and Wildcat Way, H-11 on the campus map found at https://www.cwu.edu/facility/campus-map.
Before you fall back on to your bed tonight, set your clock back one hour to the real time. Daylight savings ends early Sunday morning at 2 a.m. This means one more hour of sky watching at in the evening because the Sun will set one hour earlier. Ben Franklin proposed the idea of “saving daylight” by adjusting our clocks way back in 1784. Daylight savings time was first utilized during World War I as a way to save electricity. After the war, it was abandoned. It was reintroduced during World War II on a year-round basis. From 1945 to 1966, some areas implemented daylight savings and some did not. Also, it was not implemented with any uniformity as to when it should start and stop. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 codified the daylight savings rules.

Sunday: “It’s a wonderful day in the neighborhood.” Constellations can be considered neighborhoods in the nighttime sky. But, the stars in those constellations are not necessarily neighbors in real life. For example, the bright stars in the constellation Cassiopeia range from 19 light years to over 10,000 light years away from Earth. One constellation that consists of real neighbors is Ursa Major. Or, more specifically, the Big Dipper. Five stars in the Big Dipper are all moving in the same direction in space, are about the same age and are all about 80 light years from Earth. “Please won’t you be my neighbor?” Skat, the third brightest star in the constellation Aquarius is a neighbor to these five Big Dipper stars, all of which are about 30 light years from each other. They are thought to have originated in the same nebula about 500 million years ago. Just like human children do, these child stars are slowly moving away from home. Skat is about three fists held upright and at arm’s length above due south at 8 p.m. The much brighter Fomalhaut is a fist and a half below Skat. And, it’s not fun being below Skat.

Monday: Mercury and Jupiter are just above the southwestern horizon at 5 p.m. Jupiter is the brighter and the farther south of the two.

Tuesday: The moon is almost directly between the Earth and Sun today. That means you won’t be able to see it. But that does not mean it doesn’t exist. Contrary to the belief of toddlers and immature politicians, just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. (Note a double negative statement followed by a triple negative statement. I’m not unsorry about that.) Now, back to the science. What would happen to the earth if the moon really didn’t exist? In that 2013 blockbuster Oblivion, aliens destroy the moon and Tom Cruise survives. But the long-term effects on the earth would be devastating to life, as we know it. The moon stabilizes the spin axis of the earth keeping the seasons fairly uniform over time. For more information on what would happen to the earth if the moon were destroyed, go to http://goo.gl/4EbzLa. For more information on Thomas Cruise Mapother IV, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Cruise.

Wednesday: Did you look up Vera Rubin and Abu Rayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad Al-Biruni based on last week’s Halloween costume suggestion? Vera Rubin was an American astronomer who discovered that the orbital speed of material near the edge of galaxies was just as fast as material closer to the center. The best explanation for this was that there is invisible mass, or dark matter, spread throughout galaxies.  If you want to learn about her in her own words, listen to https://www.aip.org/history-programs/niels-bohr-library/oral-histories/33963. Abu Rayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad Al-Biruni was one of the greatest scholars in the Medieval Islamic era. He did research on celestial motions and drew plans of an early clock and astrolabe, two important early astronomical tools..

Thursday: Deneb Kaitos, Arabic for whale’s tail, is two and a half fists above due south at 9:30 p.m. This is the brightest star in the constellation Cetus the sea monster.

Friday: While Stonehenge is an ancient burial ground visited by religious people for thousands of years, MIThenge is an 825-foot long hallway on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology visited by the Sun’s rays twice a year.  Every year in November and January, the setting Sun lines up with a narrow window at the end of the long hall and the light shines down to the opposite end. This season’s alignment is from November 10-12. For more information, visit http://goo.gl/0hwFQf or visit MIT. In addition, challenge yourself to find a similar alignment in your neighborhood. If you are not up for a challenge, just go outside tonight at 6:30 p.m. Saturn is a little less than one fist above due southwest and Mars is nearly three fists above the southern horizon.


The positional information in this column about stars and planets is typically accurate for the entire week. For up to date information about the night sky, go to https://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/planner.cfm.

Friday, October 26, 2018

The Ellensburg WA sky for the week of 10/27/18

Saturday:  Lacerta, the faint lizard constellation, is straight overhead at 9 p.m. It was named by the Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius in 1687 to fill the space between the much brighter and well-defined constellations Pegasus, Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, and Cygnus going clockwise from the constellation just south of Lacerta.

Sunday: Look for Jupiter and Mercury just above the southwest horizon after the Sun sets. Jupiter is the brighter and higher of the two, although it is still only about a half a fist above the horizon.

Monday: What time is tea time? Certainly not during an autumn evening. The constellation Sagittarius the archer, with its signature teapot shape, is sinking into the south-southwest horizon by 7 p.m. The handle is on top and the spout is touching the horizon ready to pour that last cup of tea. Saturn is riding the teapot, about one and a half fists above the south-southwest horizon.

Tuesday: What do Justin Bieber and Betelgeuse have in common? Both are superstars. One will shine brightly for about a few hundred thousand more years. The other will only seem to be around for that long. “Sorry” Beliebers. “If you Love Yourself”, you and your “Boyfriend” need to learn more about Betelgeuse, the real supergiant star that is big enough to hold about one million Suns. “What Do You Mean” you don’t know where to look? For more information about Betelgeuse, go to http://goo.gl/0MyfHT. You’ll find it one fist above due east at 11 p.m.

Wednesday: Halloween. The pumpkins. The candy. The children going door-to-door dressed up as their favorite radio astronomers: Vera Rubin and Abu Rayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad Al-Biruni. At least they should because Halloween is, in part, an astronomical holiday. Halloween is a “cross-quarter date”, a day approximately midway between an equinox and a solstice. Historically, the Celts of the British Isles used cross-quarter dates as the beginnings of seasons. For the Celts, winter began with Halloween. So when all those little Hevelius’s come to your door tonight night, honor the Celts and give them a wintry treat. If they ask you for a trick, point out Mars, two and a half fists above the south-southwest horizon at 7:00 p.m.

Thursday: Happy Celtic New Year! Many historians think that November 1, known for the festival of Samhain, was the ancient Celtic New Year’s Day. Samhain, Old Irish for “summer’s end”, was a harvest festival that may have contributed to some of the customs of our current “holiday” of Halloween.

Friday: The CWU Physics Department and the College of the Sciences is hosting its monthly First Saturday planetarium show tomorrow from noon to 1 p.m. CWU physics major Jessica Kisner will give a presentation about Solar System moon. Sure, you know about our moon. But what do you know about Europa or Enceladus? If the answer is “not much”, you better show up. The show is free and open to all ages. There will be a show at noon on the first Saturday of every month hosted by different CWU astronomers and astronomy educators. The planetarium is room 101 in Science Phase II, just off the corner of 11th and Wildcat Way, H-11 on the campus map found at https://www.cwu.edu/facility/campus-map.


The positional information in this column about stars and planets is typically accurate for the entire week. For up to date information about the night sky, go to https://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/planner.cfm.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Ellensburg WA sky for the week of 10/20/18

Saturday:  The Orionid meteor shower consists of the Earth colliding with pieces of the remains of Halley's Comet's tail. This shower peaks after midnight for the next two nights. This is not a meteor shower that typically results in a meteor storm. There will be about 15-20 meteors per hour, many more meteors than are visible on a typical night but not the storm that some showers bring. Also, the Moon will out most of the night and obscure the dimmer meteors with its light. The best time to observe will be near dawn, after moonset. Meteor showers are named after the constellation from which the meteors appear to originate. These meteors appear to come from a point in Orion, the hunter. This point is about one fist held upright and at arm’s length above due east at midnight. You can follow this point throughout the night as it will remain one fist above the prominent reddish star Betelgeuse (pronounced Bet'-el-jews). The Orionid meteors are fast - up to 40 miles per second. If you fall asleep tonight, you can catch the tail end of the shower every night until early November. For more information, go to http://earthsky.org/?p=2147

Sunday: The joint European/Japanese space agency mission to Mercury called BepiColombo just launched. There is an overview of the mission at http://sci.esa.int/bepicolombo/48871-getting-to-mercury/. But why name the mission BepiColombo? Giuseppi (Bepi) Colombo was a pioneer in studying Mercury. He made the critical calculations to insure that NASA’s Mariner 10 mission in 1974 would be a success, teaching us nearly everything we knew about Mercury until recently.

Monday: Halloween is coming soon so make sure you load up on peanut clusters, almond clusters, and open star clusters. That last one will be easy (and cheap… actually free) because two of the most prominent open star clusters in the sky are easily visible in the autumn sky. The sideways V-shaped Hyades Cluster is two fists above due east at 10 p.m. Containing over 300 stars; the Hyades cluster is about 150 light years away and 625 million years old. The Pleiades Cluster, a little more than three fists above due east, is larger at over 1000 stars and younger. Compared to our 5 billion year old Sun, the 100 million year age of the Pleiades is infant-like. The moon will help you find these clusters. This morning at 6:30 a.m., the Pleiades cluster is less than one fist to the upper right of the moon and the Hyades cluster is about one fist to the upper left of the moon. Tomorrow morning, the moon sits in the “V” of the Hyades cluster.

Tuesday: Jupiter is a half a fist above the southwest horizon at 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Along with the not-so-subtle drug reference in their name, The Doobie Brothers could have made an astronomy reference in their song lyrics if they would have written: “Old Earth water, keep on rollin’, Mississippi moon won’t you keep on shining on me.” Astronomers now think that some of the water on Earth may be older than the Solar System. The chemical signature of the water indicates it came from a very cold source, just a few degrees above absolute zero. The early Solar System was much warmer than this meaning the water came from a source outside the Solar System. For more information about the old Earth water, go to http://goo.gl/QsEu5P.

Thursday: Rho Cassiopeiae is the most distant star that can be seen with the naked eye by most people. It is about 8,200 light years away. That means that the light that reaches your eyes from that star left over 8,000 years ago, before the beginning of time according to the Byzantine calendar. Rho Cassiopeiae is six fists above the northeast horizon at 8 p.m., just above the zigzag line that marks the constellation Cassiopeia.

Friday: At 7 p.m., Saturn is one and a half fists above the south-southwest horizon and Mars is two fists above the south-southeast horizon.

The positional information in this column about stars and planets is typically accurate for the entire week. For up to date information about the night sky, go to https://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/planner.cfm.

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Ellensburg WA sky for the week of 10/13/18

Saturday:  Look up in the sky. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a dolphin. A dolphin? The constellation Delphinus the dolphin is nearly six fists held upright and at arm’s length above due south at 8 p.m. The constellation’s two brightest stars are called Sualocin and Rotanev, which is Nicolaus Venator spelled backwards. Venator worked at the Palermo Observatory in Italy in the mid nineteenth century. He slipped these names into Giuseppe Piazzi’s star catalog without him noticing. The Daily Record (shop Ellensburg) would never let anything like that get into their newspaper. Their editing (shop Ellensburg) staff is too good. Nothing (pohs grubsnellE) evades their gaze.

Sunday: Saturn is about the width of one thumb held out at arm’s length to the lower left of the Moon in the south-southwestern sky from sunset to moonset. But why wait until sunset? Saturn is bright enough to be seen with binoculars during the day. Under very good seeing conditions, you can see Saturn during the day with your naked eyes. If you know where to look. When a planet is near the Moon, you can use the Moon as a guide to find that planet. Find the Moon in the south-southeast sky at 4 p.m. With the Moon in the upper right portion of your binoculars Saturn will be in the center to lower left portion. Now lower your binoculars and look just to the lower left of the Moon with your naked eyes. You may still be able to see Saturn.

Monday: Jupiter is about a half a fist above the southwest horizon at 7 p.m. In a few weeks, it will be lost in the glare of the Sun.

Tuesday: The constellation Vulpecula, the fox, stands six fists above due southwest at 9 p.m. It is in the middle of the Summer Triangle, which is defined by the bright stars Vega, Deneb, and Altair. The fox is so faint that you need dark skies to see it.

Wednesday: Mars is about a half a fist to the left of the Moon at 8 p.m. You should try to find Mars during the day with binoculars, as well. But since it is farther from the Moon in the sky, they won’t be in the same binocular field of view. Find the Moon in the southeast sky at 5 p.m. With the Moon in the lower right portion of the binocular field of view, move the binoculars so the Moon is in the upper right portion. Then keep moving the binoculars in that direction. Mars should com into your field of view.

Thursday: The Milky Way makes a faint white trail from due northeast through straight overhead to due southwest at 9 p.m. Starting in the northeast, the Milky Way “passes through” the prominent constellations Auriga the charioteer, Cassiopeia the queen, and Cygnus the swan with its brightest star, Deneb, nearly straight overhead. After Cygnus, you’ll see Aquila the eagle with its brightest star Altair about four and a half fists held upright and at arm’s length above the southwest horizon.

Friday: BepiColombo is scheduled to launch today. No, this mission is not about the old detective TV series. And it is not about the capital of Sri Lanka. It is a joint Europe-Japan mission to study Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun. Even though Mercury is one of our closest neighbors, only two missions have visited Mercury, mainly because being close to the Sun makes for difficult travel. One probe will study the composition of Mercury and the other will study the magnetosphere of Mercury. For more information, go to http://sci.esa.int/bepicolombo/.


The positional information in this column about stars and planets is typically accurate for the entire week. For up to date information about the night sky, go to https://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/planner.cfm.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Ellensburg WA sky for the week of 10/6/18

Saturday: The CWU Physics Department and the College of the Sciences is hosting its monthly First Saturday planetarium show today from noon to 1 p.m. STEM Teaching major Katy Shain will give a presentation about the nighttime sky called “The sky, what is it good for? Absolutely everything.” The sky can’t tell you who to marry. But Katy will tell you about different ways civilizations have used the sky throughout history. The show is free and open to all ages. There will be a show at noon on the first Saturday of every month hosted by different CWU astronomers and astronomy educators. The CWU Lydig planetarium is room 101 in Science Phase II, just off the corner of 11th and Wildcat Way, H-11 on the campus map found at https://www.cwu.edu/facility/campus-map.

Sunday: The Draconid meteor shower peaks for the next three nights with tomorrow night being the best. The meteors appear to come from a point in the head of Draco, the dragon constellation. This point is nearly straight overhead at 7 p.m. tonight. This point remains near the trapezoid-shaped head of Draco throughout the night. Unlike most meteor showers, this one is best observed in the early evening rather than after midnight. Call this the “early to bed” meteor shower. Draconid meteors are slow moving which means you will have a easy time differentiating true Draconid meteors, from Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, from the stray grains of dust that happen to enter the Earth’s atmosphere every day and night. Could this be the year for a great show by the Draconids? The Moon will be nearly new so there won’t be any natural light to obscure the dimmer meteors. Also, Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner just passed by the Earth leaving many “comet droppings” for the Earth to collide with. For everything you need to know about the Draconid meteor shower, go to http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/everything-you-need-to-know-draconid-meteor-shower.

Monday: At 8:30 p.m. Saturn is one fist above the southwest horizon and Mars is two fists above the south horizon.

Tuesday: The CWU Astronomy Club is coming up and getting the Star Party started tonight at 8 p.m. The party starts with a presentation in the CWU Lydig Planetarium called The Life Cycle of Stars. It continues on the roof with telescopes and observing the night sky. The CWU Lydig planetarium is room 101 in Science Phase II, just off the corner of 11th and Wildcat Way, H-11 on the campus map found at https://www.cwu.edu/facility/campus-map.

Wednesday: While you are resting after looking for Draconid meteors this past weekend, start thinking about the Orionid meteor shower. This shower, which consists of the earth colliding with pieces of the remains of Halley's Comet's tail, peaks on October 19 through the 21st but produces meteors from now until early November. These meteors appear to come from a point in Orion, the hunter. This point is about two fists above the southeast horizon at 1 a.m. tonight. You can follow this point throughout the night as it will remain near the prominent reddish star Betelgeuse (pronounced Bet'-el-jews). The Orionid meteors are fast - up to 40 miles per second. For more information about the Orionids, go to https://goo.gl/ikAodW.

Thursday: Jupiter is less than a half a fist below the moon, low in the southwest sky at 7 p.m.

Friday: Astronomers may have discovered the first exomoon, that is, a moon orbiting a planet outside of our Solar System. They didn’t directly observe the moon. Instead, they studied the light of its host star as the Jupiter-sized planet and then its Neptune-sized moon blocked it. This transit method is one of the most popular ways to observe exoplanets. And not it may work to find exomoons, as well. Read more about this, still somewhat tentative, discovery at https://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/hubble-boosts-case-first-known-exomoon/.

The positional information in this column about stars and planets is typically accurate for the entire week. For up to date information about the night sky, go to https://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/planner.cfm.