By by Joe Rao, SPACE.com Skywatching Columnist
The fall night sky in the Northern Hemisphere brings a veritable harvest of amazing celestial sights and this year is no different, but you do need to know when to look up to see them.
A lot is happening in the night sky between now and the winter solstice on Dec. 21. Between now and then, northern stargazers will see two eclipses (one lunar, one solar), four meteor showers, the brightest planet in the solar system reaching its pinnacle in brilliance and a potential bright comet.
Of course, clear weather and dark night skies are vital to make the most of any stargazing session. [Amazing skywatching photos of the October night sky]
As the northern fall shifts into full gear, here's a closer look at each of these uspcoming events.
Oct. 18 – Penumbral Eclipse of the Moon
The moon slides through the northern part of the Earth's penumbral shadow in a lunar eclipse on Oct. 18. At mid-eclipse, 76 percent of the moon's diameter will be immersed in the penumbra, probably deep enough to cause a faint, yet discernible darkening of the moon's lower limb. The region of visibility includes much of Asia, Europe and Africa. The central and eastern portion of North America will get a view of the slightly darkened Hunters' moon during the early evening hours. [Penumbral lunar eclipse photos of 2012]
Nov. 3 – Annular-Total Eclipse of the sun
This is a rather unusual solar eclipse in that along the eclipse track, which runs for more than 8,300 miles (13,360 kilometers) across the Earth's surface, the eclipse quickly morphs from annular to a total eclipse; known to astronomers as a "hybrid eclipse." ...more