August 6, 2018
August Looks Good for Perseids Meteor Shower
By GERRY LEBING
The Perseids meteor shower will peak the night of
August 12-13. There are a number of reasons the Perseids are
considered the best meteor shower of the year:
- It’s a high volume meteor shower. The Perseids are known for counts of 100 shooting stars per hour.
- It’s a bright meteor shower. The Perseids are
reknown for their brightness and very often there are some fireballs
mixed in with the shooting stars.
- They’re easy to find. The Perseids appear to
originate near the constellation, Cassiopeia. Cassiopeia is
really easy to find and recognize. Start by looking towards the
northern horizon. Look for a well defined “W” formed by five fairly
bright stars. That’s Cassiopeia; the Perseids will appear to be a
little behind and below it.
- The Perseids are literally visible all night.
As darkness falls, the center of activity will appear to be near the NE
Horizon. On a clear night, you should be able to see meteor activity
starting around 10 p.m. Viewing gets better as the night goes on.
- Timing is everything. The moon won’t be
very bright on August 12. The new moon is on August 11; its
brightness won’t obscure the meteor shower.
Here is a fair image I got of Mars during its close approach to us last month:
I also got this fairly good image of Saturn:
What to look for in August 2018
August starts with Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars all visible in the
evening sky! This pattern will persist throughout the month.
August is also a good month to look for some major nebula. The
Trifid (M20), Eagle (M16), Omega (M17), and Lagoon Nebula (M8) are all
visible in the band of the Milky Way that appears in the Southern
sky. All four nebulae are bright objects that you might be able
to see with your naked eye or a pair of binoculars.
There is another object in that band of the Milky Way, you can
definitely spot with your naked eye - it’s M24, the Sagittarius Star
Cloud. It’s going to be really easy to find in the beginning of
August. Simply locate Saturn and look a little bit above and back
to the East. You’ll see a very bright area that will almost look like a
small glowing cloud. That’s M24, the Sagittarius Star Cloud!
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].)
- Last Quarter is August 4
- New Moon is the August 11
- 1st Quarter is August 18
- Full Moon is August 26