According to the latest national forecast, about 90% of the neighboring areas of the United States will have a clear sky on Saturday night (October 31), as children in costumes go to the door looking for candy or other Halloween gifts.
A storm across Lake Superior will delay the cold front in parts of the northern plains and western Great Lakes. It will not bring any precipitation, but it may spread some cloudy days in parts of North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
However, the rest of the country will remain in good condition, with a bright full moon illuminating the evening sky. Discuss later.
related: The rare Halloween “Blue Moon”
If you plan to accompany children nearby, you may want to point out objects that are visible in the sky to inspire them. Of course, in this year’s coronavirus pandemic, you will need to take extra precautions. Make sure young people wear masks; they can help contain the spread of the coronavirus and protect others. And remember that the physical distance from other people is at least 6 feet (2 meters). Can make a big difference!
“King of the Planets” and “Lord of the Rings”
As it gets dark, Jupiter and Saturn will become the first objects to compete for attention. About half an hour after sunset, both will be close to the highest point in the sky, about one-third of the south-southwest horizon. You really can’t miss them. Jupiter-the largest planet in the solar system-seems to emit a very bright silvery white light, while the darker Saturn will have a slightly yellowish light, which will also be slightly visible above and to the left of the “king of planets.” ”
Even with a small telescope with low magnification, you can see Jupiter’s disk and all four famous Galileo moons, so named because Galileo Galilei was the first to use himself in 1610 Of people who saw them with their thick telescopes. At night, you will see a moon on one side of Jupiter, which will be Europa, and the other three moons will be on the other side of Jupiter.
Outward from Jupiter will be Io, Ganymede, and finally Callisto.
But as interesting as Jupiter is that it has a distinct disk and four bright moons. Many people would think that Saturn is the most beautiful of all planets. Saturn’s rings are still open, and the north side is tilted nearly 21 degrees to our line of sight.
However, if you want to show off the moon, Jupiter and Saturn will deceive or heal through the telescope, please do it as soon as it gets dark, because their images may tremble and shake due to poor viewing in the evening. The mass is close to the horizon. Jupiter is scheduled to be around 10:20 pm local time, and Saturn is about half an hour later.
God of war
There is another very bright, more colorful planet that will attract most people’s attention: Mars, at the end of twilight, flaming objects hover in the eastern sky. Its orange-red hue implies blood, which is why the planet is named after the Roman god of war.
About four weeks ago, Mars was the closest to Earth until 2035. On Halloween night, its distance from us was reduced from 38.6 million miles (62.1 million kilometers) to 43.4 million miles (69.8 million kilometers), which actually matched Jupiter with a brightness of -2.1. Even a small telescope will appear as an orange-yellow disk with some dark spots on the surface. Although not as impressive as Jupiter’s moons or Saturn’s rings, some ghosts and goblins near you may still want to see it.
Halloween “Blue Moon”
Of course, the main celestial body that attracts everyone’s attention will be the moon, which will be fully loaded on Halloween. I think on the night of Christmas Eve, the holiday most associated with the full moon is Halloween. For example, who can forget the scene in the annual classic Halloween movie “That’s the Great Charlie Brown”, when Snoopy’s silhouette (not “the great pumpkin”) rose from the pumpkin piece and was brightened The scene is full as the background. moon?
This will also be the second full moon in October 2020, so it will also be branded “Blue Moon”. The term “appearing in the blue moon” was first coined in 1824 and refers to rare events, although not truly rare. However, having two full moons in the same month is not as rare as people think. In fact, it happens on average approximately every 32 months.
However, it is really rare to have a full moon just before Halloween.
I investigated the dates of all the full moons that occurred from 1900 to 2100 and found that in all time zones in the United States, only eight Halloween full moons occurred: 1906, 1925, 1944, 2020, 2039, 2058, 2077 And 2096.
Please note that between most of these years, the interval is 19 years. That is the Metonic Cycle, which is defined as 235 Jewish calendar months. This cycle is only 1 hour, 27 minutes and 33 seconds longer than 19 tropical years (a tropical year equals 365.2422 days). Therefore, in most cases, after 19 years, the full moon will reappear on the same date.
Unfortunately, the cycle is not precise, so sometimes one day the full moon will happen again. This was the case in 1963, 1982 and 2001, when the full moon was not on Halloween, but on the second day (November 1). This year’s Halloween full moon broke the 76-year drought that dates back to 1944. However, after this year, Metonic Cycle will bring the Halloween full moon back to us four more times at 19-year intervals until the 21st century.
Nevertheless, in two centuries, the full moon that happened on Halloween only happened about 4% of the time.
Or really, once on the blue moon!
Helpful hints for young telescope observers
In the September 2019 issue of Reflector, the author Richard W. Schmude Jr. provided some tips for those planning to publicize astronomy on Halloween:
“First of all, children sometimes grasp or touch the eyepieces, so please use cheap eyepieces. I will gently warn children not to touch the telescope. In my area, parents have learned to tell their children not to touch the telescope. In some cases, Children will grab the eyepieces and cause the telescope to move. Therefore, a Dobson telescope equipped with a viewfinder is a good choice for Halloween outreach activities. Small stools or lift ladders may be helpful for very small audiences. The camera connected to the monitor is placed in a telescope, and people can easily see objects on the screen.” (I would also add that in this year’s pandemic, this may be the solution to all problems). Mr. Schmid added: “Finally, I put my goodies next to the telescope so that the children can have two enjoyments!”
Joe Rao is a lecturer and guest lecturer at the Hayden Planetarium in New York. He has written articles on astronomy for “Natural History” magazine, “Farmer Yearbook” and other publications. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and Facebook.