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PAGASA: 2 meteor showers expected this month

October 4, 2011 9:29am
Barring inclement weather and the moon, stargazers can expect a treat this coming weekend with the Draconids and Orionids meteor showers, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said.

In its astronomical diary, PAGASA said the Draconids meteor shower will peak this weekend, with the radiant point for the meteor shower almost coincides with the head of the constellation Draco (the Dragon).

"Maximum peak nights will be on the nights of October 8 and 9 with rates of about 40 meteors or more per hour that may be observed at favorable sky condition," administrator Nathaniel Servando said.

Servando said an astronomer had predicted that for this year, fiery Draco might spew forth up to 1,000 meteors in a single hour.

He was referring to Canadian astronomer Paul Wiegert, an astronomer at University of Western Ontario, according to EarthSky.org.

But Servando said a big and brilliant waxing gibbous moon will be in the sky and may interfere with the sight of the meteor shower.

"Even if the predicted outburst comes this month, the shower must compete with the light of the waxing gibbous moon," he said.

On the other hand, he said the October Orionids meteor shower will be active from October 17 to 25, although the waning crescent Moon may interferes with this shower display.

A separate article on Astronomy Today said the Orionids can appear anytime between October 16 and 26, but the peak of activity should occur around October 21.

"The Orionids are named after the constellation Orion, from which they appear to emanate. These burning bits of debris were left behind by Halley's Comet; expect about 25 meteors an hour during peak activity," it said.

Pegasus visible

Meanwhile, PAGASA said the Square of Pegasus takes center stage in the Philippine night sky after sunset, which is a sign of the arrival of the northern fall.

Northeast of it lies the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), the closest large spiral galaxy to the Milky Way Galaxy.

"Under clear skies and with the aid of a star map and familiarity with the surrounding background stars, it can be seen as an elongated misty patch with the naked eye and can be easily viewed through binoculars and telescopes," it said.

Servando also said the splendid W formation of stars known as the constellation of Cassiopeia, the wife of King Cepheus and the mother of Andromeda in the Greek mythology, in lies to the left, while the constellation of Pisces, the Fish will be found at the lower right of the square of Pegasus.

The famous equilateral triangle in the sky, known as the Winter Triangle, rises before midnight.

The Triangle formed by the stars includes Betelgeuse, the super giant red star and the prominent star of the famous constellation Orion, the Mighty Hunter, Sirius, the brightest star in the sky of the constellation Canis Major (the Big Dog), and Procyon, the brightest star of the constellation Canis Minor (the Little Dog).

Planets

Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune will be observable in the evening sky throughout the month, PAGASA said.

"Jupiter will be shining brilliantly at magnitude -0.9 from the first week of October to mid-November. The planets will lie among the background stars of the constellation Aries, the Ram, Pisces, the fish and the constellation Aquarius, the Water Bearer, respectively," Servando said.

Uranus and Neptune will appear as blue spots in the sky as viewed from a telescope.

Mercury and Venus will be found low in the western horizon after sunset during the last week of the month.

Mars, the red planet, will gradually brighten from magnitude +1.3 to +1.1 during the month.

It will remain in the constellation of Cancer, the Crab until the second week and will cross through the constellation of Leo, the Lion.

Saturn will be lost from view in the sky during the month due to its proximity to the sun. — RSJ, GMA News
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