October- Draconids, The Seven Sisters and Pegasus Cluster
Draconid Meteor Shower
The annual Draconid meteor shower peaks Friday evening (Oct. 8), two days after the new moon.The Draconids are usually modest, generating just a few meteors per hour, but the visibility this year will be excellent in the absence of bright moonlight. But you never know what can happen. Every once in awhile, the Draconids put on an incredible display. In 1933, for example, observers in Europe saw up to 500 meteors per minute, according to columnist Joe Rao. And observers throughout the Western United States saw thousands of Draconids per hour at the shower's peak in 1946, he added. Be sure to let your eyes adjust a few minutes to the darkness and bring a jacket!
Also known as The Seven Sister star cluster has been admired by many civilizations over thousands of years. They’ve inspired astronomers, artists and poets alike. They’re visible with the unaided eye, as a tiny group of stars glinting against the background sky.
Despite also being known as the Seven Sisters, most people can only count six bright stars, leading some to speculate that one has dimmed over the millennia. We recommend viewing this cluster through binoculars, and if you want to have a look through your telescope you’ll need a magnification of about 35x or less to fit them all within the field of view.
Whether you’re observing with binoculars or a telescope, you’ll see a sight that’s littered with blue-white stars. The five brightest form a “little dipper” pattern that’s similar to the Big Dipper in the northern sky. Telescopic observers may also see a tiny trio of stars just to the west of Alcyone, the bright star at the center of the cluster.
M15 Pegasus Cluster
There are some faint constellations associated with the autumn, but there’s a broad range of objects to be found among the brighter stars. Let’s start with Messier 15 (M15), a globular cluster found on the western edge of Pegasus, the Flying Horse. This cluster is probably best found by first pointing your scope toward Enif; our target can be found within the same field of view.
M15 should be visible with binoculars, but you won’t see much - just a tiny, faint grey circular and misty patch. As with most things, you’ll get a better view through a telescope. A low magnification won’t make a great improvement, so you’ll need to crank it up to about 100x to be able to properly appreciate it. The core is surprisingly large and bright and appears to extend about two-thirds of the way toward the edge.