Meteor Showers and Planets


Brilliant Venus dominates the western sky this month. At 45 minutes after sunset, it will be 8 degrees high, so if there are high mountains in your sky, you may not be able to see it. But it's very bright. So, look for it in the west to see if you can find it.

In the southeast Jupiter and Saturn rise after sunset now. Saturn rises in the SE as the Sun sets. Jupiter rises an hour after Saturn and will be a little to the left of Saturn.

This is the time to observe the Perseid Meteor Showers. It peaks on Aug. 12, but they are highly visible from the 11thto the 13th. Since the new moon is on Aug. 8, this is a perfect year to view them. Next year, the full moon will occur when they peak.

They rise in the NE, but as the night gets later, they rise higher making them a night view. So, the best time to view them is from midnight to dawn. In fact, as they get higher, they will shoot all over the sky. You may see 100 meteors per hour. Now that is fabulous! They are just below the constellation Cassiopeia the Queen which is a big W.

Every August earth intersects the comet's path and plows through it. So, they slam into our atmosphere at 37 miles per second as they glow white hot. Both the glowing hot particle and the trail of ionized air are responsible for the meteor shower. They become visible at 10 p.m., but the best time to view them is after midnight.

So, get up during the night and go outside to observe them. I plan to stay out for an hour. The Delta Aquariids last from July 12 to Aug. 23, so you might also see a few of them, too. Hopefully, our sky will be clear to see them. We need the rain, but we need that night to be free of it 

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