Perseids meteor shower is visible from July 17 to Aug. 24 but
will peak between Aug. 9 and 14. The Perseids are renowned for
producing up to 60 meteors per hour, but some experts think this might
be an exceptional year for the Perseids, with meteor rates as high as
120 per hour.
are best viewed after midnight. The shooting stars can appear
anywhere in the sky, but these meteors will appear to come from the
constellation Perseus, which will rise in the northeast just after 10
p.m. on Aug. 9.
August will begin with Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Venus, and Mercury visible in the evening skies.
for Mercury and Venus near the western horizon just after sunset --
about 8:05 p.m. on Aug. 1. Venus is the brighter of the two and
will be a little closer to the horizon. Mercury will be a little higher
and further south -- to your left.
confuse Mercury with the fainter star, Regulus. Regulus is the 21st
brightest star in the night skies. It’s the brightest star in the
constellation Leo and has been called the “Heart of the Lion.” On
Aug. 1, Regulus will appear between Venus and Mercury. The three
will appear to form a line that points up to Jupiter.
you haven’t taken the time to view Jupiter this year, now’s your last
chance until October. It will get closer to the horizon every
evening. By the end of August, Jupiter will not be visible in the
prominent triangle formed by Mars, Saturn, and Antares will be due
south at dusk on Aug. 1. Mars will be on the western side of the
meridian and Saturn and Antares on the eastern side. The meridian is
the great imaginary line that extends from the north pole to the south
pole and splits the sky in half.
will rise in the east at about 9:30 p.m., followed by Uranus at 11:20
p.m. These two planets are almost identical in size, but Neptune
is 2.7 billion miles away from us while Uranus is a mere 1.9 billion
miles away. The change in distance has a profound effect on how
bright the two planets appear.
has a visual magnitude of +7.9, making it invisible to the unaided
eye. But you can view it through a good pair of binoculars. It
will appear to be a very bright star. Uranus on the other hand
has a visual magnitude of +5.9. That means on a very clear dark
night, you might be able to see it with your unaided eye. If you decide
to do this, you can increase your odds by picking a location as far
away from the village lights on Hatteras and Ocracoke as possible.
offered several good nights for astrophotography. The southern
part of the skies offered views of several nebulae, including M8, the
Lagoon Nebula is about 4.3 thousand light years away. Its visual
magnitude is +6. That makes it very difficult to see with the
unaided eye. M8 can be found with a pair of binoculars or a
telescope in our southern skies throughout July.
New moon: August 2
First Quarter: August 10
Full moon: August 18
Last Quarter: August 24
Lebing is a retired computer scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey
in Washington, D.C. He has visited Hatteras Island since the
mid-1970s. He and his wife, Karen, have owned property here for several
years and moved to their home in Waves full-time in 2013.
Astronomy is a subject that Gerry says he has always been interested in
and one that he pursues seriously -- he's built an small observatory
next to his house. You can send him questions about the night sky
through e-mail, [email protected].)