Every Monday I pick the celestial highlights of the northern hemisphere (northern mid-latitudes) for the next week, but check it out
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What to see in the night sky this week: August 8-14, 2022
This week is usually about getting to a place as dark as possible to enjoy the hottest meteor showers of the year. However, the moon has other ideas in 2022. A full ‘sturgeon moon’ will rise almost exactly as well as a Perseid meteor shower, meaning that 100 stars will likely also be nearly invisible to most stargazers.
However, this does not mean that you should not try to see some of the brightest meteors after watching the “sturgeon moon” appear on the eastern horizon at dusk. As a way of apologizing, the solar system hands us Saturn as the biggest, brightest, and best planet as the ringed planet collides later this week.
Friday, August 12, 2022: the full ‘sturgeon moon’
Today, our satellite turns full, giving the opportunity to see a beautiful orange moon rising above the eastern horizon near sunset. The August full moon bears the traditional name “sturgeon moon” in North America because it is the time of year when fish are caught in the Great Lakes region.
However, this is a very narrow geographically speaking name for a global event and I see no reason for most of North America, let alone the rest of the world, to call it that. Other, much better names for the August full moon are “Barley Moon,” “Fruit Moon,” “Grain Moon,” “Corn Moon,” and “Lightning Moon.”
Saturday August 13, 2022: Perseid meteor shower
Typically a highlight of the annual star-watching calendar, strong moonlight will destroy this year’s Perseid meteor showers, as seeing 100 or so “falling stars” per hour is likely to be very difficult thanks to the just coming full moon – though From seeing the stars just before midnight until the early hours of tomorrow morning, you might see some particularly powerful guns. The Perseid meteor shower is caused by dust and debris left in the inner Solar System by Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle.
Sunday August 14, 2022: Moon, Neptune and Saturn in opposition
Tonight the waning, lovable Moon will rise 98% later in the night near Neptune. However, you will have a job finding the eighth planet without a pair of binoculars. Meanwhile, if you look up at the eastern sky before the moon rises, you’ll see Saturn shining relatively brightly. In fact, the ringed planet is tonight at its best and biggest of the year. This is because our planet is located between Earth and Saturn, an annual occasion that astronomers call opposition. Saturn will rise in the east at dusk and occur in the west.
Goal of the week: Saturn in opposition
The opposition of Saturn occurs when the Earth passes between it and the Sun on its own, and moves faster around the Sun. As a result of that geometry, Saturn’s entire disk will be illuminated, as seen from Earth. So Saturn will be looking at its biggest, brightest, and best picture for the whole of 2022. And Saturn’s position will change throughout the night; It will move higher in the sky, although from the middle latitudes of the northern hemisphere it never rises, and will remain relatively low in the southern night sky.
You will need any small telescope to see its rings. This year Saturn’s northern hemisphere is tilted toward Earth in 2022, so you’ll get a relatively closed view of its rings. However, seeing Saturn’s rings through a telescope is still perhaps the most impressive sight for anyone who has begun observing the stars, discovering planets, and astronomy. They shine especially the few days around the opponent, so it is well worth the effort.
I wish you a clear sky and wide eyes.