Partial solar eclipse possible in Maritimes
Get ready to check out the annual Perseid meteor shower this month
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.