Archive for August, 2010

The Perseid Meteor Shower, August 12 & 13, 2010

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

The Perseid Meteor Shower is considered one of the best known meteor showers (especially to amateurs) because of the peak rate of anywhere from 50-80 meteors an hour. The shower in 2010 will be especially good because the moon will be just after new, which means its light shouldn’t interfere with viewing the shower. The shower should be visible from mid-July (for the high northern longitudes), but the most activity should be the mornings of August 12 and 13 (though the activity will sharply decline after the peak mornings).

The shower can be seen just fine with the naked eye, especially without the moon’s interference this year. The shower radiates from the constellation Perseus, but you should be able to spot the shower even if you’re not sure where in the sky that is. In order to see it clearly, if you live near a brightly-lit area, drive northeast to a darker area (if you drive south, the light pollution may affect the sky where you’re trying to see the shower). If you can see all of the stars of the Little Dipper, it should be dark enough to see the shower.

The best way to view the shower is if you setup as if you’re watching a fireworks show: bring a reclining chair or blanket so you can lay back to watch the sky. That way you don’t have to strain your neck to watch the shower. On August 12 and 13, you should be able to see the shower from around midnight until the sun rises and, in optimal conditions, you’ll see about 1 comet a minute. Even in less-than-perfect conditions, though, you should see around 25 meteors an hour.

August 12 & 13, 2010 Perseid Meteor Shower at midnight
This is the relative position of the center of the Perseid Meteor Shower at midnight of August 13 and 13. the constellation Perseius is rising in the north east. While Meteor may appear in any portion of the sky, most Perseid Meteors will appear to radiate from this point near the constellation Perseius.

Please Note: The above article is made possible by the research and writing of JJ Stamm - Thank you JJ

August 2010

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

Lunar Events

The New Moon for August occurs on Monday, August 9th, which makes the weekend of August 7-8 the best weekend for dark sky observation.

The Full Moon for August happens on August 24th and is known as the Full Corn Moon or Full Fruit Moon.

Mercury

Mercury is visible in the evening for the entire month of August. Mercury begin this month in the constellation Leo (The Lion) and begins to cross the corner of the constellation Sextans (The Sextant) on August 5th. On August 7th, Mercury finishes crossing the corner of Sextans and returns into the constellation Leo. On August 20th Mercury changes direction starting its retrograde motion toward the Sun and by August 31st, returns to the constellation Sextans.

Mercury Greatest Eastern ElongationMercury reaches its optimal viewing position on August 6th, when it reaches it’s Greatest Eastern Elongation.  At that time Mercury will be 27°22’01” from the Sun and will set about 1 hour 50 minutes after sunset.

Mercury & Moon
On August 11th the waxing, crescent Moon will pass within 3° of Mercury.

Venus

Venus is also observable in the evening for the entire month of August.  In the very earliest hours of August Venus crosses from the constellation Leo (The Lion) to the constellation Virgo (The Maiden) where it will remain located for the rest of the month.

V2enus Greatest Eastern Elongation
Venus reaches its optimal observing position on August 19th, as it reaches it’s Greatest Eastern Elongation and is in position for its best evening distance from the Sun.  At this time Venus will be 45°57’32” from the Sun and will set 3 hours after sunset.

Venus is a member of several conjunctions and grouping of other planetary object this month, including:

Venus & Saturn
On August 8th, Venus and Saturn will be less than 2°50’ apart.

Venus, Saturn, Mars & Moon
On August 12th, Venus, Saturn, Mars and the waxing, crescent Moon will be within 10° of each other.

Venus & Mars
On August 20th, Venus and Mars will pass within 2° of each other.

Finally on August 31st, Venus will pass within 1° of the Star Spica. Venus, Mars & Spica

Mars

Mars is observable during the evening Hours of August in the constellation Virgo (The Maiden). Mars sets around 10:20 pm (PDT) at the start of August, and by the end of the month, sets around 9:10 pm (PDT).

Venus, Saturn, Mars & Moon
On August 12th, Venus, Saturn, Mars and the waxing, crescent Moon will be within 10° of each other.

Venus & Mars
On August 20th, Venus and Mars will pass within 2° of each other.

Jupiter

Jupiter is located in the constellation Pisces (The Fish),  moving in retrograde, this month and can be observed from the late evening to morning hours of August. Jupiter rises around 10:25 pm (PDT) at the start of the month, and by the end of August is rising as early as 8:30 pm (PDT).

Jupiter, Uranus and Moon

 

On August 26th, the waning, gibbous Moon passes with 5°50’ of Jupiter.

Jupiter is a great place to start if your are hunting Uranus this month.  They are in proximity to each other for the entire month. Look for Jupiter at the opposite side of the sky from Saturn; as Jupiter rises in the East, Saturn is setting in the West.

Saturn

Located in the constellation Virgo (The Maiden) until December 2012, Saturn is observable during the evening hours of August. Saturn sets around 10:20 pm (PDT) at the start of August , and by the end of the month, sets around 8:30 pm (PDT).  Look for Saturn at the opposite side of the sky from Jupiter; as Jupiter rises in the East, Saturn is setting in the West.

Venus, Saturn, Mars & Moon
On August 12th, Venus, Saturn, Mars and the waxing, crescent Moon will be within 10° of each other.

Uranus

Uranus is located in the constellation Pisces (The Fish) until May 2012.

At the beginning of the month, Uranus rises around 10:15 pm (PDT), and by the end of August, it rises around 8:15 pm (PDT).

To find Uranus, you might start by looking for Jupiter and the two planets are in proximity to each other for the entire month. At the end of the month Jupiter and Uranus will be a mere 1°15’ from each other and will end up in conjunction next month on September 21st.

On August 26th, the waning, gibbous Moon passes within 5°15’ of Uranus.

Jupiter, Uranus and Moon

Neptune

Neptune OppositionNeptune is in optimal position for the year for observation as it reaches Opposition on August 20th

Neptune will be observable all month and is at its closes point to Earth for the year.  Moving in retrograde, Neptune begins the month in the constellation Aquarius (The Water Bearer) and on August 13th crosses into the constellation Capricornus (the Sea Goat) where it can be found until January 2011.

Neptune & Moon
On August 24th, the Full Moon will pass within 3°40’ of Neptune which may make it difficult to observe on that night.

Pluto

Pluto is located in the constellation Sagittarius until the year 2023 and is observable until the late evening hours of August.  At the start of the month, Pluto sets around 3:30 pm (PDT) and by the end of the month Pluto sets around 1:30 am (PDT).

Pluto & Moon
On August 18th, the waxing, gibbous Moon passes around 6° from Pluto.


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