Full Hunter’s Moon 2018: See October's Full Moon Ahead of Leonid Meteor Shower

full moon
Representational image. CC

Stargazers are in for a treat over the next four weeks, with October’s full "Hunter’s Moon" and the Leonid meteor shower appearing in the night sky.

The full moon will appear on October 24. It is known as the Hunter’s moon because this would have been the time people went out hunting by moonlight in order to stockpile food for winter.

According to EarthSky, this year’s Hunter’s moon is a little unusual. Because of the angle at which it is positioned, it will appear later in the night sky of the Northern Hemisphere than normal—approximately 50 minutes late. Conversely, it will appear before sunset in the Southern Hemisphere.

At the same time as the full moon, Uranus will appear in the night sky. While the glare from the moon will block it to an extent, it might be possible to see the seventh planet from the Sun at the same time.

9_21_Full Moon Stock image: Birds fly in front of a full moon. Getty Images

After this, the new moon will appear on November 7 and will be reach its first quarter on November 15—good timing for the Leonid meteor shower, which will peak two days later. When a meteor shower coincides with a full moon, it can be difficult to see—the light from the moon makes spotting shooting stars difficult.

The Leonids meteor shower happens when Earth crosses the orbital path of Comet Tempel-Tuttle. The comet leaves a path of tiny debris. When these debris enter Earth’s atmosphere at speeds of around 43 miles per second, they vaporize, causing bright streaks across the sky.

The Leonids has the potential to produce meteor storms, where hundreds if not thousands of meteors are produced every hour. In 1833, the storm was spectacular, producing 100,000 meteors per hour.  This year’s event is not expected to be quite so prolific.

Leonid fireball 2001 Leonid fireball recorded in Hawaii NASA

Bill Cooke, from NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, told Newsweek: “The Leonids this year are expected to produce between 10-20 meteors per hour just before dawn on the morning of November 18. Even though the Leonids are faint, the waxing gibbous Moon will set before the radiant gets high enough in the sky to produce decent meteor rates, so there will be no moonlight to interfere with the viewing.

“Best time is from 3 A.M. to dawn—go outside and lie flat on your back, and look straight overhead. Be sure to allow 30 minutes or so for your eyes to adapt to the dark; avoid glancing at the bright screen of your cell phone, as this will mess up your night vision.”

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