Watch the Sky: Perseids Meteor Shower, Supermoon, Moon Meeting 3 Planets And Other Must-See Celestial Events This August

Meteor Shower.  (Fred Bruenjes/NASA)

Meteor Shower.

(Fred Bruenjes/NASA)

With the James Webb Space Telescope reinvigorating interests in astronomy all over the world, it is noteworthy to remember that the pursuit of all black holes, quasars and supernovae began simply with humans staring up at the sky.

If you want to rekindle your love and wonder for astronomy, or simply don’t want to miss August’s line-up of spectacular cosmic performances in the sky, keep reading to know what space has in store this month!

August 4: Comet C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS) reaches brightest point

The C/2017 K2, once the largest comet ever discovered just a few years back, will be on its 600,000 year round visit to the Solar System this August.

From Northwest India, the stunning C/2017 K2 will be visible around 8:11 PM at 48° above the southern horizon, following which it will sink to the horizon around 1:26 AM. It will be visible close to the Scorpius constellation, and might even be visible to binoculars instead of professional telescopes.

August 11: The Moon and Saturn rendezvous

On the first night of the Full Moon, the Moon and Saturn will be extremely close to each other in the night sky (merely 5th apart!). However, the blinding moon might make it hard to spot the planet, especially if you’re in an environment of significant light pollution or humidity.

August 12: Supermoon

This will be the third and final supermoon this year, and it will be at its most prominent and closest to Earth around 7:06 AM IST. Due to this, the Moon might appear slightly larger and brighter than usual.

While the impressive Full Moon phenomenon already illuminates the entire Moon by being diametrically opposite the Sun, a “Supermoon” takes it a step further by being a Full Moon that also coincides with perigee — the closest that the Moon comes to the Earth, resulting in the slightly larger appearance.

This Supermoon is also called the “Sturgeon Moon”, “Red Moon”, “Green Corn Moon” and “Grain Moon”.

August 12-13: Perseids Meteor Shower

Many astronomers herald the Perseids Meteor Shower as one of the most spectacular showers to watch all year. At its peak, the shower boasts up to 60 bright meteors per hour, and usually peaks between the night of August 12 and August 13 morning.

Unfortunately, due to the bright Full Moon that will adorn the skies on the same night as the shower, all but the brightest meteors might get blocked out by the moonlight. However, it can still be worth watching from a dark location after midnight due to the sheer number and intensity of the event.

The Perseids Shower is produced by the comet Swift-Tuttle, and will mostly radiate out around the Perseus constellation.

August 14: Saturn at opposition

Saturn will approach excitingly close to the Earth in one of the main cosmic dishes this month. Due to its proximity, most of one face of the ringed planet (and some of its moons!) will be extremely visible all night long, and will only set around sunrise.

A medium-sized telescope would help in photographing the gas giant, which should be visible among the stars of the eastern Capricornus constellation.

August 15: Jupiter and Moon rendezvous

After its stint with Saturn in the night sky, the Moon will pay the other gas giant a visit, and the two celestial objects will appear extremely close together in the sky.

August 18: κ-Cygnid meteor shower

While August is known for the Perseid stealing the show, don’t underestimate the κ-Cygnid meteor shower that will reach its peak this month as well. With the Moon only half as illuminated during this time, the modest κ-Cygnid will put on a performance of roughly 3 meteors an hour to wrap up this August night.

August 19: Mars and Moon meet

Depleting this month’s social battery, the Moon will have one final meeting with Mars, and will appear extremely close to the Red Planet. During this time, the Moon will be in its third-quarter phase, and their picnic can be observed near the Taurus constellation.

August 27: New Moon

After the bright and blinding Supermoon earlier this month, the invisible new moon will create a blank canvas all across the sky for galaxies and star clusters to pop out from. But this phase will occur around 1:47 PM IST during the afternoon, and so the Indian astronomers might not reap much of its benefits towards the night.

A New Moon occurs when the Moon is located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun, which casts its shadow on our planet. Since there is no reflecting light from our lunar satellite, astronomical objects can be viewed and photographed beautifully during this time.

August 27: Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation

The first planet from the Sun will also be extremely close to the Earth during the same time as the New Moon. Mercury will reach an eastern elongation of 27.3° from the Sun, and will be visible above the horizon in the evening sky.

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