Maybe it’s a lunatic you’re looking for

Tomorrow is gearing up to be a VERY interesting day. First off, it’s International Observe The Moon Night, so you’re encouraged to have a look at the moon. Secondly, tomorrow is the peak of the Draconid meteor shower. Both of these things, on their own, are probably not especially interesting to most people. Together though, they may give you a chance to see a ONCE IN A LIFETIME event!

I’ll give you the quick and dirty version of why the meteor showers happen first. Comets orbit the sun, get heated by it as they come close and the ice and gas start blasting debris into space, forming the tail that is what you’re thinking of when you hear the word “comet”. That tail is also a trail of debris, and sometimes our planet’s orbit takes us right through this stuff, which vaporizes itself whilst hitting our atmosphere, creating a streak of light. This is a meteor and when there are a lot, like when we pass through cometary debris, it becomes a meteor shower.

You may not have heard of the Draconids, but they happen every year. The thing is, you’re usually only getting 10-20 meteors per hour from these, which is great, but even for me this is on the “meh” side of astronomical phenomenon.  Tomorrow’s peak is predicted to be as much as 600(!) per hour! This is absurd. This is also ideal if you live in Europe, which I don’t. The peak time here is around 4pm EST.

However, you should still look. There will certainly be a few bright ones that are visible during the day. It’s also possible that one of these big ones will HIT THE MOON! It’s more likely that this will happen before it rises for us here in the Northeast, but let’s look anyway.

This is the “once in a lifetime” part. It’s extremely rare for anyone to see a lunar impact, even less so during the day.

Boom!

Keep your eyes on the northern part of the  moon, and it will be visible just over the horizon around 4:30pm. Seriously, if something does happen, you’ll kick yourself if you didn’t even bother to look. Worst case, you see a daytime meteor, which is still pretty rad.

This will also be both the first and last time I ever quote Billy Joel.

Update: This is the first and last time I MIS-quote Billy Joel. Ha!

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