Astronomical Events To Put In Your Diary For August

In August, the night sky has some spectacular celestial events that are even visible to the naked eye. The Delta Aquarid and Perseid meteor showers are wonderful to see, even for a novice stargazer. This month is basically a stargazer’s dream come true, so we highly recommend having a few late nights to witness these astronomical displays, kept warm with some country clothing.

Perseid meteor show can be seen in August

July 12th to August 23rd Delta Aquarid

The Delta Aquarid meteor shower can be seen on and off from mid-July to August 23rd and overlaps with the annual Perseid shower. With the full moon on August 7th, the best time to see the shower is closer to the 23rd, when the light of the moon does not obstruct your view. Delta Aquarid meteors are distinguished by their lingering meteor trains made up of ionised gases, that can be seen for a second or two after the meteor has passed.

 

August 7th Full Sturgeon Moon

August’s full moon, known as the Sturgeon Moon, illuminated the sky on Monday, August 7th. The Full Sturgeon Moon is named after the large fish, and like many other full moons, its name can be traced back to Native American tribes, who knew sturgeons were most easily caught during this time. It is also known as the Full Green Corn Moon and Blueberry Moon.

 

August 7th Partial Lunar Eclipse

A lunar eclipse is when the Earth is directly between the sun and the full moon, and some of you may have been lucky enough to catch the partial eclipse between 7.30pm and 8.00pm on August 7th. NASA streamed it live over their social media channels though, in case you missed out and this is still viewable today!

 

August 11th to 12th Perseid Meteor Shower

The Perseid Meteor Shower is one of the most famous in the world and is known for producing a high number of bright meteors; there can be up to 60 shooting stars every hour. The show will be best seen on the night of August 11th and in the early hours of August 12th, but be aware the Moon could block your view of the showers. There is also a chance you can see the Perseid shower as late as August 24th.

 

August 21st New Moon

The new moon occurs on August 21st, and though it is not a great spectacle, the darker sky provides perfect conditions for stargazing. With no light from the moon, the night of August 21st means you can spot even the furthest stars and galaxies, and spot the constellations easily. A telescope will help you view the least brightest.

 

August 21st Partial Solar Eclipse

To have both a lunar and solar eclipse in the same month is extremely rare, and though in the UK we won’t be able to see a full eclipse of either phenomenon, we will still have a partial view. At around 8 pm on August 21st, the moon will move between the sun and the earth. The best place to see the eclipse is again North America; the four percent of the moon covering the sun we will get in England may well go unnoticed. However, NASA will be broadcasting the event live, so we still won’t miss out on the amazing event.

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Meteor Showers

Meteors also called shooting stars are frozen dust and rock debris that makes up a comet’s tail. As the debris passes through the Earth’s upper atmosphere at 90,000 miles an hour, it burns up. This debris can be visible from Earth as a meteor, and very rarely, the debris falls to the surface in the form of meteorites.

Comets pass by the Earth regularly, leaving behind debris from their tails and the meteor showers that are produced have become annual events, such as Perseid and Delta Auarid.

The place in the sky where a meteor appears is called a radiant. The showers are named after constellations or a star in the area of the night sky where the radiant appears, for example, Perseids are named for the constellation Perseus.

It is not just moonlight that can block views of the showers, as lights can ruin your view too. The ideal location would be in the countryside or a park with no light pollution. Some locations in the UK have been awarded Dark Sky status too, making them the perfect place for going stargazing this month. These are Brecon Beacons National Park, Cairngorms National Park, Exmoor National Park, Lake District National Park, Northumberland National Park, North York Moors National Park, Peak District National Park, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, South Downs National Park, Snowdonia National Park and Yorkshire Dales National Park.

 

Image credit: Bill Ingalls

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