By Mario Carr
This year, the Perseid Meteor Shower will peak 2 a.m. Thursday August 13 under a moonless sky. The absence of any glare from the moon means you can see fainter meteors this year.
For best viewing, start watching the northeast skies in the evening of August 12 from a dark location away from city lights. Laying on a lounge chair or blanket is the preferred method to see the show.
The meteor shower receives its name because it appears to be radiating from the Perseus constellation. Most meteors will be faint but some will have long bight tails lasting several seconds.
You could see 40-100 meteors per hour but it could be higher than usual this year. If you start looking tonight, you could see some meteors and the show is expected to last until August 26.
The meteor shower happens every year, at this time, when the Earth moves through dust particles left behind from Comet109P/Swift-Tuttle that burn in the atmosphere. The comet appeared in 1992. There was a better show in back the 1990’s, when the Earth moved through denser particles.
Here are August stargazer events. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.
Mercury is hard to see in the evening sky. Venus is close to the Sun on the 15th and can’t be seen until later in the month, low in the eastern morning sky just before sunrise.
Jupiter vanishes into the western evening twilight sky early in the month. Saturn is in the western evening sky, setting after midnight. Uranus rises late evening and Neptune rises mid-evening.
August 5 – Uranus is close to the Moon.
August 6 – Mercury, Jupiter and Regulas will be in a tight group low in the western evening sky after sunset. There will also be a last quarter moon.
August 20 – Mars will be in the Beehive Cluster or M44 low in the eastern dawn sky.
August 22 – The last quarter moon will be close to Saturn in the south evening sky.
August 29 – The full moon this month is called the Sturgeon Moon. First Nations people caught more Sturgeons during this full moon.
For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at http://www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.
Mario Carr is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.