The 2020 NOVAC Star Gaze event is cancelled. See you at Astronomy Day!
For more information on the event, visit the Star Gaze page.
The Sun will beam down directly on the equator giving us just about equal amounts of day and night in most parts of the world. North of the equator, this is your Autumnal Equinox. If you live south of the equator, this is your Spring Equinox.
Also, try balancing an egg on its end! Whether or not you succeed has nothing to do with the Equinox, but it’s still a fun game to try on any day of the year. 🙂
The second quarter moon will ensure dark skies in the early evening for what should be a good show. Best viewing will be in the early evening from a dark location far away from city lights.
The Draconids is a minor meteor shower producing only about 10 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet 21P Giacobini-Zinner, which was first discovered in 1900. The Draconids is an unusual shower in that the best viewing is in the early evening instead of early morning like most other showers. The shower runs annually from October 6-10 and peaks this year on the the night of the 7th. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Draco, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
This optimal positioning occurs when Mars is almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky. Since the Sun reaches its greatest distance below the horizon at midnight, the point opposite to it is highest in the sky at the same time.
At around the same time that Mars passes opposition, it also makes its closest approach to the Earth – termed its perigee – making it appear at its brightest and largest.
This happens because when Mars lies opposite the Sun in the sky, the solar system is lined up so that Mars, the Earth and the Sun form a straight line with the Earth in the middle, on the same side of the Sun as Mars.
The time of Mars’s perigee is an especially good time to observe it, since it neighbors the Earth in the solar system and has the greatest variation of all of the planets in its distance from the Earth. This in turn leads to a large variation in its apparent size and brightness.