Oct. 8: You might see some stray meteors from the Draconids meteor shower, a minor shower that produces about 10 meteors per hour that peaked on the night of Oct. 7. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet 21P Giacobini-Zinner, which was first discovered in 1900. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Draco, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
Oct. 9: Mercury at greatest eastern elongation. The planet Mercury will be at its farthest angle from the sun, known as greatest elongation. It will be at its highest point in the night sky after sunset. This is the best time to observe Mercury since it hugs the sun and doesn't usually climb very high above the horizon.
Oct. 12: International Observe the Moon Night, an annual event dedicated to encouraging people to look up and take notice of our nearest celestial neighbor.
Oct. 18: Full moon. This will be the smallest full moon of the year because it will be near apogee, its farthest point from the Earth. Which also brings us to...
Oct. 18: Penumbral lunar eclipse.
Oct. 21, 22: Orionids meteor shower, an average shower producing up to 20 meteors per hour produced by dust grains left behind by none other than Halley's Comet. The shower runs annually from Oct. 2 to Nov. 7, peaking this year on the night of Oct. 21 and the morning of Oct. 22. This year's waning gibbous moon will block some of the meteors, but the Orionids tend to be fairly bright. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Orion, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
Day 3 of the government shutdown raises the question: How long do you think the stalemate will last?
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