Not a very good week to observe the planets. Mercury is best seen from 9 pm to 9.15 pm only. In the constellation Leo. The distance to the Sun is only 19°. Venus is on 15 August at its closest approach. Next week the planet is best seen early in the morning just before Sunset. The distance to the Sun is only 11°. Mars is best seen from 4 am to 5 am in the constellation Cancer. The distance to the Sun in the sky is 17°. Jupiter is best seen around 9 pm in the constellation Leo and the distance to the Sun in the sky is only 11°. The planet with the rings, Saturn is the favored. Saturn is best seen from 9.20 pm to 11.40 pm in the constellation Libra.
Uranus need a telescope or binocular to observe and is best seen after midnight to 3.35 am in the constellation Pisces.
The Moon is in New Moon on Friday 14 August.
The Sun rises at 5.41 am in the East North East and sets at 8.41 pm in the West North West. The Sun will rise 12 minutes later and sets about 14 min earlier in a week’s time.
Deep sky and dim objects are best observed from 10.40 to just before 4 am. The Milky Way is best visible around 1 am in the morning.
Wednesday 12 August
The International Space Station or ISS is visible at Sun set and appears at 8.49 pm in the West. Culmination at 8.55 pm in the South at 65° and disappears at 8.59 pm in the East South East. After one orbit of about 90 minutes ISS appears again at 10.26 pm in the West. Culmination at 10.31 pm in the South South West at 31° and disappears at 10.32 pm in the South South East at 24°.
A rather bright Iridium flare appears at 11.29 pm in the West at altitude 22° in the constellation Bootes. Another, but fainter flare after midnight at 0.37 am in the South West at altitude 43° in the constellation Aquila.
The meteor shower Perseids is best observed from 10.20 pm to 4.15 am. The expected local hour rate is now 54. Notice the rather rapid velocity of 60.4km/s. Maximum will be tomorrow Thursday!
At 4.50 am the Moon is close to Mars. The limb separation is about 6° or about 12 lunar diameters. Look carefully as the Sun is going to rise a little later and the sky will be bright. At 5.15 am the Lunar Crescent is visible and only 34 hours before New Moon. The Moon is only 2% illuminated. Altitude of Moon at this time is only 4° and the Moon rises at 4.37 am and 66 minutes before the Sun. At dawn at 5.28 am a very bright at flare in the South West at an altitude of 72° in the constellation Andromeda.
Thursday 13 August
Daytime and at noon, but at 12 pm the meteor shower Perseids is at maximum. The meteor shower is active from 17 July to 24 August. Look in the mornings, around and after midnight.
ISS appears at 9.32 pm in the West. Culmination at 9.38 pm in the South South West at 42° and disappears at 9.40 pm in the South East at 12°. After one orbit of about 90 minutes ISS appears again at 11.09 pm in the West but disappears after a few minutes in the Earth shadow at 11.13 pm in the South West at 13°.
At 2.24 am a rather bright flare appears in the North West at altitude 13° in the constellation Canes Venatici. Look for the meteor Perseids which are best seen from about 10.20 pm to 4.20 am. The local hour rate is 48. Another flare at 5.22 am in the South West at altitude 72° in the constellation Andromeda.
Friday 14 August
At 3.53 pm it is New Moon. Although not visible, later at 7.30 pm the Moon is close to Venus. The limb separation is 3° or 7 lunar diameters. The distance to the Sun is 3.6°.
ISS appears at 8.39 pm in the West. Culmination at 8.45 pm in the South South West at 54° and disappears at 8.49 pm in the East South East. ISS appears again at 10.16 pm in the West. Culmination at 10.21 pm in the South South West at 20° and disappears at 10.22 pm in the South at 17°. At 11.26 pm a flare appears in the West at altitude 19° in the constellation Bootes. The meteor Perseids is best seen from 10.20 pm to 4.25 am and the local hour rate is now 26.
Saturday 15 August
Today in 1960 the first British motorway services with restaurant opened at Newport Pagnell on the M1 motorway.
Not visible but at 8.25 pm Venus is in conjunction and 7.8° separated from center of Sun. Venus will have its closest approach after midnight at 1.30 am. The distance to the Earth is 0.288 AU.
ISS appears at 9.22 pm in the West. Culmination at 9.27 pm in the South South West at 29° and disappears at 9.30 pm in the South East at 10°. A rather bright flare
is visible at 11.29 pm in the West at altitude 17° in the constellation Bootes. And after midnight another similar flare at 0.28 am in the South West at altitude 39° in the constellation Ophiuchus. The meteor Perseids is best seen from 10.10 pm to 4.20 am and the local hour rate is now 15.
Sunday 16 August
ISS appears at 8.29 pm in the West. Culmination at 8.34 pm in the South South West at 39° and disappears at 8.39 pm in the South East. Look for the Lunar Crescent at 8.40 pm and 53 hours after New Moon. The elongation or distance to the Sun is 24° and the Moon is 4% illuminated. The Moon sets at 9 pm, 27 minutes after the Sun.
ISS appears again at 10.06 pm in the West. Culmination at 10.10 pm in the South West at 12° and disappears 10.12 pm in the South at 9°. Watch some flares for the rest of the night and the morning. Once at 11.20 pm in the North North East at altitude 11° in the constellation Auriga. Next a bright flare at 11.33 pm in the West at altitude 15° in the constellation Bootes. After midnight a flare at 0.22 am in the South West at altitude 38° in the constellation Ophiuchus. And the last one at 2.22 am in the North North West at only 4° in constellation Canes Venatici. Have you seen them all?
And do not forget the Perseids meteors which are best seen from 10.10 pm to 4.20 am and have now the local hour rate of9.
Monday 17 August
Today in 1896 the first pedestrian killed by a motor vehicle in Britain was Mrs Bridget Driscoll of Croydon in Surrey.
Look at 8.50 pm for the Lunar Crescent, 77 hours after New Moon and distance to the Sun or elongation 35°. The Moon is only 9% illuminated.
ISS appears at 9.12 pm in the West. Culmination at 9.17 pm in the South South West at 18° and disappears at 9.21 pm in the South South East. A brighter flare is visible at 11.29 pm in the West at altitude 13° in the constellation Bootes. And a little later another one at nearly the same spot at 11.36 pm in the West North West at altitude 13° in the constellation Bootes.
The moon is in apogee, or furthest away at 3.42 am. The distance of the Moon center to the Earth center is 405872.7 km or 253670.4 miles.
The Perseids meteor shower is best seen from 10 pm to about 4.25 am and the local hour rate is now down to only 6. Close the morning session off with a bright flare at 5.07 am in the West South West at altitude 68° in the constellation Andromeda.
Tuesday 18 August
Today in 1941 the National Fire Service was established in Britain. A very bright flare after midnight at 3.23 am in the West North West at altitude 40° in the constellation Lyra. and another very very bright flare at 5.01 am in the West South West at 67° in the constellation Andromeda. The Sun rises in the opposite at 5.54 am in the East North East.
The activity of the meteor Perseids is coming to an end. Best seen from 10 pm to 4.25 but the local hour rate is only 4.
Wednesday 19 august
Today it is the 55th anniversary (1960) of the Sputnik 5 launch. Sputnik 5 carried the dogs Belka and Strelka and as well 40 mice, 2 rats and a variety of plants. It did not return to Earth. On 12 Apr 1961 the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space.
Mars crosses the Beehive Cluster M44. View this in the early morning when Mars is visible. ISS appears at 9.03 pm in the West. Culmination at 9.07 pm in the South West at 11° and disappears at 9.11 pm in the South South East. A very bright flare is visible at 0.13 am in the South West at 34° in the constellation Ophiuchus.
Get in touch with me via www.patrickpoitevin.weebly.com if you need more information.
Ashbourne SKY WATCH Special – Look out for the Perseids!
The Perseid meteor shower is one of the brighter meteor showers of the year. The Perseids occurs every year between 17 July and 24 August. The shower peaks this year on Thursday 13 August at noon. Not visible for our region, but look the night before and the night after when it still will be very active. The best time to view the Perseids, or most other meteor showers is when the sky is the darkest. The New Moon on 14 August 14 will create perfect conditions for watching this meteor shower. And ... at least in summer it should not be that cold as in winter for our region.
Wednesday night, the meteor shower is best observed from 10.20 pm to 4.20 am. The expected local hour rate is now 54. Notice the rather rapid velocity of 60.4km/s. Daytime and at noon, at 12 pm the meteor shower is at maximum. Thursday night the local hour rate is still 48. As you will notice on our weekly SKY WATCH, the local hour rate declines towards the end of the week.
The Perseids are named after the constellation Perseus where the direction or what we call the radiant, from which the shower seems to come in the sky lies. Meteors are made of tiny space debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle where this meteor shower is associated with. The constellation Perseus can be found in the North East part of the sky. The Perseids can be seen between the radiant or the constellation Perseus, which will be in the North East part of the sky and the zenith or the point in sky directly above you. You can easily see a meteor or what most of us call a shooting star with the naked eye just looking straight up. All you need is clear skies and a pair of eyes. Get out of town and find a place as far away as possible from artificial lights. Prepare to wait and bring something to sit or lie down on. A deck chair, garden lounger, hammock or ... hot tub. Be patience as star gazing is a waiting game and it is important to get comfortable.
The stream of debris is called the Perseid cloud and stretches along the orbit of the comet Swift–Tuttle. The cloud consists of particles ejected by the comet as it travels on its 133 year orbit. Most of the particles have been part of the cloud for around a thousand years. However, there is also a relatively young filament of dust in the stream that was pulled off the comet in 1865, which can give an early mini-peak the day before the maximum shower. The dimensions of the cloud in the vicinity of the Earth are estimated to be approximately 0.1 astronomical units (AU) across and 0.8 AU along the latter’s orbit, spread out by annual interactions with the Earth’s gravity.
Facts and myths ...
The name Perseids derives in part from the word Perseides, a term found in Greek mythology referring to the sons of Perseus.
The bits and pieces from Comet Swift-Tuttle slam into the Earth’s upper atmosphere at some 210 000 kilometers or 130 000 miles per hour, lighting up the nighttime with fast moving Perseids.
Perseids are called meteoroids when they are still in space.
Perseids are called meteors when they enter the Earth's atmosphere.
Perseids enter our atmosphere at about 133 200 mph or 60 kilometers per second relative to the planet.
Most are the size of sand grains; a few are as big as peas or marbles and almost none hit the ground, but if one does, it is called a meteorite.
Comet Swift-Tuttle, whose debris creates the Perseids, is the largest object known to make repeated passes near Earth. The nucleus is about 6 miles or 9.7 kilometers in diameter.
Original, in the 90s, astronomers thought the comet would hit the Earth. Latest calculations, based on observations quickly eliminated all possibility of a collision. The comet and Earth might experience a cosmic near miss with about a million miles in 3044.
When a Perseid enters the atmosphere, it compresses the air in front of it, which heats up. The meteor, in turn, can be heated to more than 3000 degrees Fahrenheit or 1650 Celsius. The intense heat vaporizes most meteors, creating what we call shooting stars.
Most Perseids become visible at around 60 miles or 97 kilometers up. Some large meteors splatter, causing a brighter flash called a fireball, and sometimes an explosion that can often be heard from the ground.
As the Earth rotates, the side facing the direction of its orbit around the Sun tends to scoop up more space debris. This part of the sky is directly overhead at dawn. The Perseids and other meteor showers are usually best viewed in the predawn hours.
Comet Swift-Tuttle was last seen in 1992, an unspectacular pass through the inner solar system that required binoculars to observe.
Comet Swift-Tuttle's orbit has been traced back nearly 2000 years and is now thought to be the same comet that was observed in 188 AD and possibly even as early as 69 BC.
Comet Swift-Tuttle is due back in 2126 and astronomers think it might become a spectacular naked eye comet like Hale-Bopp. If historical calculations are correct then the 2126 appearance will mark the comet's 3rd millennium of human observation. Well ... it won't be me!
The Earth’s atmosphere experiences millions of meteors every day.
A small percentage of meteoroids fly on a path that goes into the Earth’s atmosphere and then back out again, they are known as Earth grazing fireballs.
When many meteors occur in a close time frame in the same part of the sky it is called a meteor shower.
Around 500 meteorites reach the Earth’s surface every year but of those only around 5 ever make it to scientists for study.
Meteorites that are observed as they fall through the Earth’s atmosphere and later recovered are called ‘falls’, all others are called ‘finds’. To this date there have been around 1000 collected ‘falls’ and 40000 ‘finds’.
Most meteorites are one of three types: stony, stony-iron, or iron. These compositions tell us where the meteoroid existed in its parent body. An iron or stony iron was close to the core of an asteroid, while a stony object was closer to the surface.
One of the famous meteorites is The Allende Meteorite and fell to Earth in a fireball on 8 February 1969. It was originally about the size of a car, and pieces were strewn across the Mexican state of Chihuahua.
The Fukang Meteorite is one of the best examples of a pallasite, a type of stony-iron meteorite.
The Hoba Meteorite was found in Namibia, Africa). It is a very large, 60 ton rock, which makes it nearly impossible to move. It has been declared a National Monument in Namibia.
The Willamette Meteorite weighs 15.5 tons and is the largest ever found in the United States.