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What We're Watching: August 2021

Ok, this is an interesting one. Do you know where the phrase “once in a blue moon” comes from? Read on to find out. And have a GREAT month!

August 2: Saturn at Opposition

In astronomy, a planetary opposition refers to when a planet forms a straight line with the earth and the sun, with the earth at the center. As a result, the planet will be brightly illuminated and close to the earth! This makes it a great time to observe it! You’ll be able to collect some excellent photographs of the planet and its moons using a medium or larger-sized telescope.

August 8: New Moon

On the night of August 8th there will be no visible moon in the night sky. With no moonlight to interfere, you’ll have an excellent opportunity to observe faint galaxies and star clusters. With agreeable weather, you should also have great visibility of Saturn, Jupiter, and Uranus if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere.

August 12-13: Perseid Meteor Shower

Arriving with warm weather and a waxing moon, the Perseid Meteor Shower should make for a spectacular show. With the potential of up to 100 meteors per hour, it should be one of the most notable showers of the year. The Perseid Meteor Shower is known for producing bright, fast-moving, fiery streaks in the night sky. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Perseus, but they can appear anywhere in the night sky.

August 19: Jupiter at Opposition

As mentioned, planetary oppositions give you some of the best views because of their fully illuminated face. Jupiter will be at its closest position to the earth on the night of the 19th, so you’ll be able to get excellent views and photos of the planet and its moons. A medium-sized telescope should be enough to allow you to observe Jupiter’s cloud bands, and a pair of quality binoculars will let you see Jupiter’s moons.

August 22: Full Moon, The Blue Moon

On the night of the 22nd, the moon will shine high and bright with a fully illuminated face. This is the 3rd of 4 full moons in the season. Typically there are only 3 full moons per season, so this event is quite rare (once every 2-3 years). This rare event gave rise to the phrase “once in a blue moon”. Who would’ve thought?
The Native American tribes also called this moon the Sturgeon Moon because it was the time of year that Sturgeon fish were plentiful in the Great Lakes.
Did you know about the origin of the Blue Moon? Let us know in the comments below!
Until next time…

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