Par­tial so­lar eclipse pos­si­ble in Mar­itimes

Get ready to check out the an­nual Per­seid meteor shower this month

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - COMMUNITY - Glenn Roberts Glenn K. Roberts lives in Strat­ford, P.E.I., and has been an avid am­a­teur as­tronomer since he was a small child. His col­umn ap­pears in The Guardian on the first Wed­nes­day of each month. He wel­comes com­ments from read­ers, and any­one who would

The an­nual Per­seid meteor shower is due to peak on the night/morn­ing of Aug. 12-13. Un­for­tu­nately, the near-last quar­ter moon will in­ter­fere some­what, wash­ing out all but the bright­est of the me­te­ors.

How­ever, the Per­seids are a long-last­ing shower, vis­i­ble un­til about Aug. 24, so any clear night, away from city lights, you are apt to see a few, with more vis­i­ble the closer you get to the peak date.

The best time to view the Per­seids (or any meteor shower) is from mid­night (Aug. 12) un­til just be­fore dawn (Aug. 13). Dur­ing that time, the ra­di­ant (ap­par­ent point of ori­gin) of the shower - Perseus - the War­rior Prince - will be high in the NE sky; the higher the ra­di­ant in the sky, the more me­te­ors you will see. Get out away from city lights, find some­where com­fort­able

to sit or lie (the beach is per­fect) and put your back to the moon or block it with a build­ing or tree. Google Per­seid meteor shower 2017 for more in­for­ma­tion.

Jupiter can be found high in the SW sky about 45 min­utes after sun­set. Start­ing the month at mag. -1.9, the so­lar sys­tem’s largest planet dims to mag. -1.7 by month’s end. If you can’t fig­ure out which bright ce­les­tial ob­ject is Jupiter, wait un­til Aug. 24, when Jupiter sits just to the lower left of the cres­cent moon about 45 min­utes after sun­set. On any clear night, use binoc­u­lars to spot Jupiter’s four largest moons - Io, Europe, Cal­listo and Ganymede - danc­ing around their par­ent planet.

Saturn, with its mag­nif­i­cent ring sys­tem, be­comes vis­i­ble in the SE sky (due south at late twi­light) as the sky dark­ens. This evening look for it sit­ting to the lower left of the wax­ing, gib­bous moon, about an hour after sun­set.

This month, bril­liant Venus (only planet ca­pa­ble of cast­ing a shadow) rises in the E ap­prox­i­mately three hours be­fore the first light of dawn be­gins to brighten the sky. Venus be­gins Au­gust shin­ing at mag. -4.0, but fades ever so slightly to mag. -3.9 dur­ing the lat­ter half of the month. A thin, cres­cent moon sits di­rectly be­low Venus on the morn­ing of Aug. 19. By the next morn­ing, a much thin­ner cres­cent moon sits to the planet’s lower left.

Weather per­mit­ting, on Aug. 21 at ap­prox­i­mately 3:45-4 p.m. ADT, we may be able to see a par­tial so­lar eclipse. On that date, a to­tal so­lar eclipse will slide across the con­ti­nen­tal United States. Here in the Mar­itimes, being some­what re­moved dis­tance-wise from the to­tal so­lar eclipse path, we should be able to see about 50 per cent of the sun blocked by the moon, as it passes in front of the sun.

As with all so­lar eclipses, and I can­not stress this strongly enough, do not look di­rectly at the sun dur­ing the eclipse (even a par­tial one) or you risk dam­ag­ing your eye­sight. Make sure your chil­dren do not look at the sun ei­ther. Try putting a pin hole in a piece of card­board, turn­ing your back to the sun and pro­ject­ing the sun’s im­age onto an­other piece of card­board a short dis­tance away.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the par­tial eclipse, go to https:// is.gd/2017eclipsemap or www. skyandte­le­scope.com/2017eclipse.

Un­til next month, clear skies.

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