Did you know that October 4-10th is World Space week? In our house, we have two different career aspirations. My 5 year old wants to be an Astronaut or a NASA engineer and my 3 year old wants to be a dinosaur. While I’m still working on how that last one will play out, I can definitely encourage my oldest through helping him explore all things space.
In celebration of the week, I decided to round up all of the cool things to see in the sky this month as well as events to help encourage your budding astronomers and space explorers.
First off, why the 4-10th? Well October 4th is the anniversary of the launching of Sputnik, the first ever human-made satellite. And October 10th is the anniversary of The signing of the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies.(say that 10 times fast….).
October 5th: Full Moon. This early October full moon goes by several names: Hunter’s Moon, Blood Moon and Harvest Moon.
October 7th Putnam Explorers/Explorers Jr. “Journey to Space” The Putnam Explorers and Explorers Jr. program is a drop off program for kids pre-K thru 5th Grade. The Journey to Space program will allow Explorers to “interact” with an astronaut through the use of augmented reality. Explorers will learn all about the stars, planets, and other things in space. Pre-Registration required.
October 8th: Draconids Meteor Shower. The cool thing about this meteor shower is that unlike other meteor showers, it is best viewed early in the evening, which is perfect for meteor shower viewing during the school year (no late nights or super early mornings required!) It is not as plentiful or as bright as other meteor showers, but still something to keep an eye out for during a week of star gazing.
Spot the International Space Station. This is one of our favorite nerdy things to do. Go to spotthestation.nasa.gov for a full list of spotting times for our area. The site will also tell you what direction and angle to look at to see the station. It looks like a very fast dot of light streaming across the sky when in reality it is a football field sized space station carrying humans in space. How many humans? Feel free to check out http://www.howmanypeopleareinspacerightnow.com/ (a real website that gives you the number of humans currently in space).
The ISS is due to fly over the QCA on the 4th, 5th and 6th. Another bonus is that all of those sightings are before 9pm, which is a great way to see something cool in the sky before bedtime.
Other October celestial happenings:
On the evening of October 19th, Uranus will be the closest to Earth and most illuminated by the Sun
October 20 5pm-8:30 The Putnam Museum is hosting their Family Fun Night with the theme “Adventures in Space” The Putnam will have their Discovery Dome open as well as the film “Hidden Universe 3D.” Activities in the Great Hall are free to the public but general admission is required to experience the Museum and Science Center and a ticket is needed for the film.
October 21,22 Orionids Meteor Shower. This meteor shower will be best viewed after midnight, so set your alarm clocks and wake those kiddos up for a celestial show!
October 21st is the Popular Astronomy Club of the Quad Cities public astronomy night at Niabi Zoo. After sunset, the club will have telescopes as well as helpful members to explain what to look out. Feel free to bring your own telescope as well. Weather permitting.
October 28th Augustana College’s John Deere Planetarium Open House 7:30-9pm. There will be opportunities to do outdoor observation as well as an indoor program on the night sky. Attendees will also be able to see a quarter-ton piece of a real meteor! As an added bonus, the Fryxell Geology Museum will also be open, which means my future dinosaur also gets to indulge his career aspirations as well!
Where will you be during World Space Week? My family and I will be outside, looking up at the sky!