Two reasons to look up this month!

There are two celestial events to see this August, the first being this weekend. The annual Perseids Meteor shower is this coming weekend and the end of the month features a real treat, a Full Lunar Eclipse.

The Perseid Meteor shower happens this weekend August 11, 12, 13 with the peak occurring the evening of Sunday August 12th. While there is no expectation of an exceptional show, this years shower coincides with the new moon, meaning there will be no moonlight washing out the sky (that won’t help the light pollution in towns and cities though). While from a dark sight on Sunday evening you could easily see 80 to 100 meteors an hour, you may only see one of the brightest every 5 to 10 minutes in the city. The shower is expected to peak high in the sky Sunday between 1:00 AM and 3:00 AM Eastern time. The meteors can appear any where over head so lie back and enjoy the show. If you can’t make it out Sunday you should be able to head out Saturday or Monday evening and catch the early or late part of the celestial fireworks show. Search the net as there is loads of information on the Perseids.

The early morning of August 28th brings a less frequent event, especially to watchers in Western Canada, a full Lunar eclipse! The Peneumbral phase of the eclipse starts at 1:53 AM Mountain Time, when the moon first starts to enter the penumbra or outer shadow of the earth. The moon starts to enter the Umbral phase at 2:51 AM and totality begins at 3:52 AM. Mideclipse, when the moon is deepest and darkest occurs at 4:37AM and totality ends at 5:22 AM, and the Penumbral phase and the eclipse ends at 7:21 AM.

During the umbral phase, the moon should appear as deep red/rust colour, although since it will be passing a little south of the centre of the umbra, the southern end should appear brighter and yellower than the northern half.

The entire event will happen in the South West part of the sky and while it can be seen with naked eye, binoculars or a small telescope is all that is needed to really appreciate this event.

If you want to see what your night sky will be like on the above evenings, check out this great online tool from Canadian Software Writer Attilla Danko using Environment Canada’s data called the Clear Sky Clock here . Astronomers all over North America use this data to plan their observing sessions, and it is some of the most accurate information I have seen.

Hopefully your skies will be clear to see these great events!


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