- Chris Baker
What's Up? - AUGUST 2021
Each month I highlight a few objects you can spot in the night sky without the need for optical equipment. Here are the exciting things for AUGUST 2021!
MAJOR METEOR SHOWER THIS MONTH
At the same time each year the earth passes through the dust from a comet's tale and we are treated to those tiny particles hitting the atmosphere as meteors.
This shower is made of pieces from Comet Swift-Tuttle, a comet first discovered in 1862 that takes 133 years to make one trip around the sun. Comet Swift-Tuttle was last visible in the night sky in 1992 and won't return until 2126.
This year we can expect a beautiful display from the Perseids meteor shower.
The shower begins mid July and continues until around the 24th August. However, it peaks between the 8th-16th August and especially 11th-13th August.
If it is clear on any of those three evenings then you can expect up to 100 meteors per hour.
I typically get a deckchair out to watch. (And maybe a Scotch Whisky)
How can you see them?
The best is the nights of the 12th and 13th - after dark and from about 20:00 BST onwards.
It is best to look north-east up at about 60 degrees, but don't worry - just looking in that direction will deliver!
And don't forget to make a wish when you spot a shooting star. let me know if you are successful - especially if it is your first time.
The Gas Giants - Jupiter and Saturn
How to Observe
This magnificent planet will be visible all month and will be shining down on you! You can't miss it.
You'll need to stay up quite late to so it but it is worth. As you'll be watching the meteors on the night of the 12th, I thought it best to show you the map for that evening, around midnight. You need to be looking low down in a southerly direction.
Jupiter and Saturn
Courtesy of Stellarium
I highlight objects you can see with the naked eye but if you do have binoculars then hold them steady against a wall and view Jupiter. You may be able to spot as many as 4 of its moons.
Visible all month and close to Jupiter.
Here's a long shot - but you may be able to spot this elusive planet 20 minutes after sunset - using the naked eye of course. It will be best positioned mid month and here it is on the 15th.
You need to look west and you may be able to see Venus and Mercury as in this representation.
Mercury and Venus just after sunset
Courtesy of Stellarium
Enjoy the night sky this month and let me know about your observations
Thank you for reading this blog and do let me know if there is anything you would like me to add to my Newsletter each month.