And a solar eclipse, too!
October may not have an asteroid crash, but with upcoming meteor showers, Mercury sightings, and a partial eclipse, the astro fun is hardly slowing down.
First things first: Northern lights sightings are on the rise, and it’s only going up from here. A recent flurry of aurora-borealis activity provides a taste of what’s to come as we near solar maximum, the sun’s most active period. Solar maximum is predicted for July 2025. Check off this bucket-list natural phenomenon in Iceland, Alaska, or, as last month showed, as far south as Michigan.
October’s also one of the last months to admire the galactic center of the Milky Way in the U.S., according to the photography-planning app Photo Pills.
Oct. 5: Crew-5 Mission launch
On Oct. 5, NASA and SpaceX will send a crew of two Americans, one Japanese, and one Russian to the International Space Station. Their vessel? The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance capsule, according to EarthSky.org. Once they reach ISS, the team will conduct hundreds of experiments such as printing human organs in space and evaluating how fuel systems operate on the moon, according to a NASA press release.
Oct. 4-10: World Space Week
While you won’t technically see this week-long event in the sky, World Space Week offers the chance for astro enthusiasts to learn more about the universe — and the future of traveling beyond our atmosphere. This UN-backed program centers on “sustainability in space” in 2022. It features a series of virtual and in-person events, with more than 1,000 space-week experiences worldwide.
Oct. 8: Mercury at Its Greatest Western Elongation
Mercury’s a tricky one to see in the night sky. Its orbit is closer to the sun than the Earth’s, which means the sun’s glow often drowns it out. That will change on the evening of Oct. 8, according to In-the-Sky.org. Mercury will reach its greatest separation from the sun, aka elongation, when it’s easier to see. It will be most visible just before sunrise.
Oct. 21-22: Peak of the Orionids Meteor Shower
The Orionid meteors grace our sky every October, and this year, the shower will reach its peak on the nights of Oct. 21 and 22, between midnight and dawn. According to EarthSky.org, this isn’t the strongest meteor shower of the year, but if you’re in a dark-sky destination, you could see upwards of 20 meteors per hour.
Oct. 25: Partial Solar Eclipse
Next year marks the start of eclipse frenzy, but stargazers in Europe, northern Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia can whet their appetite this fall with a partial solar eclipse on Oct. 25. According to EarthSky.org, the partial eclipse will last from around 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. ET. Stuck stateside? Join the fun via a livestream by the Royal Museums of Greenwich. If you’re lucky enough to watch in person, don’t forget your eclipse glasses.