Space fans should get their binoculars and telescopes dusted off for August. There will be lots to see with the aid of machine or the trusty naked eye. The gringa will share a cosmic calendar for the month ahead so everyone schedule their dinners and bedtimes accordingly if you want to enjoy some breathtaking galactic events rather than hunker down for digital entertainment indoors.
August 2 – New Moon: Without the interference of moonlight this is the perfect night to explore other galaxies and nearby star clusters who will be shining in all their glory with no competition from our little satellite.
August 11,12 – Perseids Meteor Shower: At its peak, this little baby (pictured above) has the potential to create up to 60 meteors per hour (gives a whole new meaning to MPH). We can all thank comet Swift-Tuttle for this fantastic light show. Discovered in 1862. it has consistently provided entertainment for Earthlings through July and August. The event will peak on these two days in August. The best time to watch is right after the moon sets around midnight. Or, for those early to bed and early to rise, a pre-dawn show is also prime time for Perseids observation.
August 16 – Mercury: This is the best time to view Mercury as it reaches it greatest eastern elongation from the Sun. Look for it in the evening sky at the highest point of the horizon or at a low point in the western sky just after sunset.
August 18 – Full Moon: This is the best time to get a great look at our pockmarked neighbor. Full illumination will occur between 9-10pm UTC. A bit of full Moon trivia: some Native American tribes call the full Moon a Full Sturgeon Moon because these nights are the best times to catch this type of fish that populates the Great Lakes. Other tribes also called the full Moon the Green Corn Moon or the Grain Moon.
August 27 – Venus & Jupiter: These two planets are going to join together in close proximity for a spectacular opportunity to see them both. Look for them in the western sky soon after sunset. They will be shining very brightly and close together.
Image Credit: nasa.gov