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Possible Aurora - Oct Meteor Showers, Blue Moon for Oregon, Washington Coast

Published 09/28/20 at 7:41 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Possible Aurora - Oct Meteor Showers, Blue Moon for Oregon, Washington Coast

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(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – A blue moon, a meteor shower and the possibility of northern lights. This is what’s happening or possible along the Oregon and Washington coast in October – maybe even tonight. (Above: Aurora Borealis in the Oregon Coast Range in 2011).

The biggest and most immediate interstellar news that involves the Oregon and Washington coast is the possibility of seeing the Aurora Borealis tonight and / or Tuesday night in the region. For the Portland area and southern Washington, chances are “slim,” according to OMSI astronomy expert Jim Todd.

“According to Estimated Planetary K Index forecast is below 6,” Todd told Oregon Coast Beach Connection. “Really depends how strong the remaining solar storm surge will be in the northern hemisphere on September 29th. Take a peek later tonight, look north just above the horizon. The moon is in waxing gibbous phase.”

According to SolarHam.com, northern Canada is in for an eyeful, but Washington state and Oregon are in a zone that is iffy for the northern lights.

According to the National Weather Service:

“NOAA forecasters say there is a chance of more G1- and G2-class storms on Sept. 29th as our planet continues its transit through a high-speed stream of solar wind. The gaseous material is flowing 600+ km/s from a large hole in the sun's atmosphere.”

The southern Oregon coast won't get to see the Aurora, but the entire northwest shoreline will get to witness other phenomena.

Starting very soon, the Orionid meteor shower will make its presence known throughout October, peaking on October 21. The Orionids actually begin October 2 and run through November 7, caused by the Earth passing through the stream of debris left by Comet Halley.

Scientists say look in the last hours before dawn, when the most meteors can be seen. The crescent moon will be setting by mid evening, providing largely darker skies.

According to Space.com, the peak around the 21st may mean as many as 10 to 20 streaks an hour, but nothing is guaranteed there. It could make for more – it could be far less.

The Orionids are extremely fast, about 66 kilometers – 41 miles – per second as they hit the atmosphere.

Where to see them on the Oregon or Washington coast? Higher vantage points help a little, such as Cape Arago near Coos Bay, the gravel pullout just north of Cape Perpetua, Anderson’s Viewpoint near Oceanside, or Cape Foulweather or the Neahkahnie Lookouts near Manzanita. These sights are, of course, weather dependent.

Also on the galactic menu for October are two full moons, the last of which is called a blue moon.

“Next month (October already!), we'll be gifted two full moons,” Todd said.

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The first full moon, the Harvest Moon, will be on Thursday, October 1st at 2:05 p.m. It refers to the full moon that occurs closest to the first day of autumn; this year, it was on September 22. Depending on the year, the Harvest Moon can fall before or after the autumnal equinox which arrives annually on or near September 22nd.

The next full moon will occur on Halloween, October 31, 2020 at 7:49 a.m. and will be named the Hunter's Moon. Halloween is a “cross-quarter” day, a way marker for halfway between the equinox and solstice. Typically, the second of two full moons to occur in a single calendar month is nicknamed a Blue Moon. The last Blue Moon was on March 31, 2018. More Aurora Borealis and stellar sights below.

See Oregon Coast Weather - Washington Coast Weather






Meteor photo courtesy NASA

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