What To See In The Night Sky This Week


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Each Monday I pick out the northern hemisphere’s celestial highlights (mid-northern latitudes) for the week ahead, but be sure to

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What To Watch For In The Night Sky This Week: August 8-14, 2022

This week would normally be about getting somewhere as dark as possible to enjoy the year’s most famous meteor shower. However, the Moon has other ideas in 2022. The full “Sturgeon Moon” will rise almost exactly as the Perseid meteor shower peaks, meaning its 100 also shooting stars are likely to be virtually invisible to most stargazers.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to see some of the brightest meteors after you’ve watched the “Sturgeon Moon” appear on the eastern horizon at dusk. As a way of apology, the solar system delivers us Saturn as its biggest, brightest and best as the ringed planet goes into opposition later this week.

Friday, August 12, 2022: A Full ‘Sturgeon Moon’

Today our satellite turns full, bringing the chance to see a beautiful orangey moon rise above the eastern horizon close to sunset. August’s full Moon has the traditional name of the “Sturgeon Moon” in North America because is the time of year that the fish were caught in the Great Lakes.

However, that’s an extremely geographically narrow 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 August’s full Moon include the “Barley Moon,” “Fruit Moon,” “Grain Moon,” “Corn Moon” and “Lightning Moon.”

Saturday, August 13, 2022: Perseid meteor shower

Typically a highlight of the annual stargazing calendar, strong moonlight will ruin this year’s Perseid meteor shower, with its 100 or so “shooting stars” per hour likely to be very tricky to see thanks to a just-past-full Moon—though if you’re out stargazing just before midnight tonight and into the early hours of tomorrow morning then you may see some particularly bright bolides. The Perseid meteor shower is caused by dust and debris being left in the inner Solar System by Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle.

Sunday, August 14, 2022: Moon and Neptune, Saturn at opposition

Tonight a 98%-lit waning gibbous moon will rise later at night close to Neptune. However, you’ll have a job finding the eighth planet without a pair of binoculars. Meanwhile, if you look to the eastern sky before the Moon rises you’ll see the planet Saturn shining relatively brightly. In fact, the ringed planet is tonight at its brightest and biggest of the entire year. That’s because our planet is between the Earth and Saturn, an annual occasion that astronomers call opposition. Saturn will rise at in the east at dusk and set in the west.

Object of the week: Saturn at opposition

Saturn’s opposition occurs when Earth passes between it and the Sun on its own, faster, journey around the Sun. As a consequence of that geometry, Saturn’s disk will be entirely illuminated, as seen from the Earth. So Saturn will look at its biggest and brightest and best for all of 2022. The position of Saturn will change throughout the night; it will move higher in the sky, though from mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere it never gets particularly high, and it will remain relatively low in the southern night sky.

You’ll need any small telescope to see its rings. This year Saturn’s northern hemisphere is tipped towards the Earth in 2022, so you’ll get a relatively closed view of its rings. However, to see Saturn’s rings through a telescope is still perhaps the most impressive sight of all to anyone starting out in stargazing, planet-spotting and astronomy. They’re particularly bright in the few days around opposition, so it’s worth making the effort.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.

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