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Photo via Kurt Magoon/Flickr

Halloween is an astronomical holiday

Halloween, derived from Samhain, a festival of the ancient Celts and Druids, is a cross-quarter day – midway between the autumn equinox and winter solstice.

View larger. | Jeff Dai in Tibet captured this Taurid fireball on November 10, 2015.  He wrote: "The Taurid fireball make a beautiful reflections on the Yamdrok Lake."

Keep watching for Taurid fireballs

The North and South Taurid meteor showers are going on simultaneously now. They’re considered minor, but produce many fireballs, or bright meteors.

Joe Randall created this composite shot of the Orionid meteor shower from images taken on October 21, 2014.  Thanks, Joe!

Look for Orionid meteors this month

Details on the annual Orionid meteor shower. How and when to watch. In 2016, the peak mornings is October 21, but, by then, the moon will be in the way.

Taken during the 2015 Perseid meteor shower in August - at Mount Rainier National Park - by Matt Dieterich.  He calls the photo 'Skyfall.'

EarthSky’s meteor shower guide for 2016

Look here for information about all the major meteor showers between now and the year’s end.

Hunter's Moon rising in 2014. Photo by Abhinav Singhai.

2016 has a super Hunter’s Moon

The Northern Hemisphere’s full Hunter’s Moon for 2016 falls the nights of October 15 and 16. Will it be bigger, brighter, more colorful?

Skywatcher, by Predrag Agatonovic.

October guide to the bright planets

In late October, Venus is the bright object in the west each evening. Jupiter is the bright object in the east before dawn!

The moon's orbit around Earth is not a perfect circle.  But it is very nearly circular, as the above diagram shows.  Diagram by Brian Koberlein.

Close and far moons in 2016

A little-known fact about the intriguing cycle of far and close moons, plus dates for 2016’s 14 lunar apogees (far moons) and 13 lunar perigees (near moons).

Depiction of minor lunar standstill outside the National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC. They represent markings found in New Mexico's Chaco Canyon. Image via Flickr user Catface3.

Minor lunar standstill and Hunter’s Moon

The moon’s appearance in our sky follows a cycle. The cycle of minor lunar standstills diminishes some Hunter’s Moon characteristics in 2016.

Giacobini-Zinner, parent comet of Draconids, via NASA

All you need to know: Draconids in 2016

The Draconids are best seen in the evening hours. In 2016, a wide waxing crescent moon will somewhat interfere, but still … give it a try!

Image Credit: Esparta

All you need to know: September equinox

2016’s September equinox arrives on the 22nd. Happy autumn (or spring)!


Astro festivals, star parties, workshops

Looking for something to do on the weekends? At star parties, amateur astronomers with telescopes will show you the night sky. Find one near you …

January 1, 2015 sunset by Helio de Carvalho Vital.  Shot 3 of 6.

Day and night exactly equal at equinoxes?

On the day of the equinox, the center of the sun would set about 12 hours after rising – given a level horizon, as at sea, and no atmospheric refraction.

Moon Sept. 18, 2013 by Amy Simpson-Wynne

2016’s close and large Harvest Moon

This year’s Harvest Moon on September 16 happens to be an especially close and large full moon. Some will call it a supermoon. Notice that it’s very bright!


Sun enters Virgo on September 16

The sun will stay in front of the constellation Virgo until it passes in front of the constellation Libra on October 30.

The last eclipse of the Moon visible from the USA occurred on the night of Sept. 27/28, 2015. It was a total eclipse as the Moon passed completely inside Earth’s dark umbral shadow. ©2015 by Fred Espenak.

Supermoons and the Saros cycle

Here’s one you might not know … the intriguing relationship between supermoons and the famous 18-year Saros cycle of eclipses.


Minor lunar standstill and Harvest Moon

A phenomenon known as a “minor lunar standstill” will cause a shift in characteristic moonrise times on the nights around this year’s Harvest Moon.

The zodiacal light is a diffuse cone-shaped light extending up from the horizon on the right side of this photo. Photo by Richard Hasbrouck in Truchas, New Mexico.

Watch for zodiacal light or false dawn

The zodiacal light is an eerie light extending up from the horizon. No matter where you are on Earth, springtime or autumn is the best time to see it.

M20, aka the Trifid Nebula, Credit Line & Copyright Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona, via Wikimedia Commons.

Find the Lagoon and Trifid nebulae

Take a dip in the Lagoon and Trifid nebulae on these September evenings, especially if you’re in a place where you can see the starlit band of the Milky Way.


How Earth looks from outer space

If you were looking with the eye alone, how far away in space would our planet Earth still be visible?


Photos and video of Venus and Jupiter!

August 27, 2016 was the conjunction of Jupiter and Venus. Sky’s 2 brightest planets. Closest conjunction of any 2 planets in 2016.