STARGAZING

The Hunter’s Moon

 

This year the Hunter’s Moon occurring on Sunday night, October 20th and early Monday morning, October 21st will be shining in the east after sunset looking pumpkin orange as it rises.

The full moon after the Harvest Moon has been called the Hunter’s Moon in western society for a long time. After the harvest was cut, hunters could ride out under the light of this full moon to hunt the small animals that came out to forage the remains of the harvested crops.

This year’s Hunter’s Moon will be the most distant and thus the least bright full moon for the entire year. It will be 252,000miles away which will make it appear 12% smaller and 32% less bright than the closest and brightest full moon of 2002, which occurred back on February 27th when the moon was only 222,000 miles away. The full moon in October is some 30,000 miles farther away than it was in February.

As the Hunter’s Moon rises just after sunset it will appear to be orange because it is being viewed through the dustier layers of Earth’s atmosphere when it’s close to the horizon. If you use your imagination, the full moon of October almost always looks like a jack-o-lantern.

Astronomer Guy Ottewell once suggested that maybe hundreds of years ago our ancestors noticed that the full moon closest to Halloween looked like a human face and was orange in color. Perhaps this was what prompted them to carve jack-o-lanterns from the bountiful crop of pumpkins.

The Orionid meteor shower, so named because the meteors seem to radiate from Orion, occurs on Monday, October 21st.

Under ideal conditions the shower produces 20 meteors per hour, or an average of one every three minutes. The situation is far from ideal this year due to the glare from the full Hunter’s Moon .It may well diminish the number you can detect to 5 per hour. Look after midnight up until the start of dawn.

Happy Stargazing!

The Waynedale News Staff
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