Topics for Public Engagement

Are you interested in sharing your science and expertise with the public? Education and public engagement opportunities may be available online or in your community. Explore ways to get involved by contacting your local museums and planetariumslibrariesSolar System Ambassadors, or amateur astronomy clubs.

Orionid Meteors from Orion

Orionid Meteors from Orion. Credit: Lu Shupei.

Orionid Meteor Shower

October – November

The Orionid meteor shower is active throughout October and November and peaks on the night of October 20 in the hours after midnight and before dawn. This annual event gets its name from the fact that you can trace the paths of its meteors back to an area of the sky near the Orion constellation. These meteors are fragments of dust left behind by Comet Halley in a trail that extends along its orbit. The Orionid meteors occasionally leave persistent trains and sometimes produce bright fireballs.



DART views

(Left) The last complete image taken by NASA’s DART mission 2 seconds before impact. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL. (Right) One of LICIACube’s stunning views of DART’s impact. Credit: ASI/NASA.

DART’s Successful Impact with Dimorphos

On September 26, 2022, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft, NASA’s first planetary defense test mission, slammed into Dimorphos, an asteroid moonlet approximately 11 million kilometers away, at 14,000 mph! The spectacular impact was observed by DART’s companion, LICIACube, as well as by ground-based telescopes. As the dust clears, astronomers will monitor the asteroid’s orbit for change. Stay up to date on the DART mission.





Artemis Regions Map

Map of the Artemis regions from Moon Trek. Credit: NASA.

All About the Moon

Each year, International Observe the Moon Night unites enthusiasts and curious people worldwide in appreciation of our Moon. This year, the event happened on October 1. In 2023, the event will occur on October 21. But you don’t have to wait a year to bring incredible lunar science, imagery, activities, and resources to your audiences! Check out NASA’s lunar science resources, share the interactive Moon Trek application, and enjoy the newly released Lunar 100 video series showcasing the top 100 features to observe on the Moon.




Mars and Saturn in retrograde

Retrograde Mars and Saturn. Credit: Tunç Tezel (TWAN).

Mars in Retrograde

As the planets move around the Sun, inner planets complete their orbits faster than outer planets. About every two years, Earth overtakes Mars. Throughout 2022, Mars has been working its way across the night sky, toward the east. But at the end of October, Mars will appear to begin moving in the opposite direction, westward, relative to background stars. This will continue until late January, when eastward motion will resume. This apparent reversal in Mars’ motion is called the retrograde motion of Mars and is an illusion caused by Earth passing Mars. Over the next several months, you can observe this retrograde motion and witness a phenomenon that puzzled early astronomers!



Spotlight on Education highlights events and programs that provide opportunities for planetary scientists to become involved in education and public engagement. If you know of space science educational programs or events that should be included, please contact the Lunar and Planetary Institute's Education Department at [email protected].