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What to see in the night sky this week: August 8-14, 2022
This week is usually in the darkest place possible to enjoy the most famous meteor shower of the year. However, the moon has other ideas in 2022. The full “Sturgeon Moon” will almost rise at the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, meaning most stargazers will probably barely see its 100 meteors.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to see some of the brightest shooting stars after watching the “sturgeon moon” appear on the eastern horizon at dusk. As a way of apology, the solar system has Saturn as its biggest, brightest and best as the ringed planet goes into opposition later this week.
Friday, August 12, 2022: The “Sturgeon Moon” of the Full Moon
Today, with our satellites fully loaded, there is a chance to see the beautiful orange moon rising over the eastern horizon and approaching sunset. The full moon in August has the traditional name in North America “Sturgeon Moon” because it’s the time of year when fish is caught on the Great Lakes.
However, it’s an extremely geographically narrow name for a global event, and I don’t think much of North America, let alone the rest of the world, has reason to call it that. Other better names for the August full moon include “Barley Moon,” “Fruit Moon,” “Grain Moon,” “Corn Moon,” and “Lightning Moon.”
Saturday, August 13, 2022: Perseid meteor shower
Usually a highlight of the annual stargazing calendar, the intense moonlight will ruin this year’s Perseid meteor shower, and the 100 or so “shooting stars” per hour may be hard to see due to the just-passing full moon – though if you’re tonight Go out for stargazing before midnight and into the early hours of tomorrow, and then you might see some particularly bright bolides. The Perseid meteor shower is caused by dust and debris left behind by Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle in the inner solar system.
Sunday, August 14, 2022: Moon and Neptune, Saturn opposition
Later tonight, a 98% waning gibbous moon will rise near Neptune. However, you will find the eighth planet without binoculars. Meanwhile, if you look to the east before the moon rises, you’ll see Saturn relatively bright. In fact, the ringed planet is the brightest and largest of the year tonight.That’s because our planet sits between Earth and Saturn in what astronomers call an annual event be opposed to. Saturn will rise in the east and set in the west at dusk.
Celestial Object of the Week: Saturn Opposition
Saturn’s opposition occurs when Earth passes between it and the sun as it orbits the sun at its own faster speed. Because of this geometry, Saturn’s disk will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. As a result, Saturn will be at its biggest, brightest and best throughout 2022. Saturn’s position will change throughout the night; it will move higher in the sky, although from mid-latitudes in the northern hemisphere it will never get particularly high, and it will remain relatively low in the southern night sky.
You’ll need any small telescope to see its rings. This year Saturn’s northern hemisphere will be tilted toward Earth in 2022, so you’ll get a relatively closed view of Saturn’s rings. However, seeing Saturn’s rings through a telescope may still be the most impressive sight for anyone beginning stargazing, planetary observation, and astronomy. In the days around the opposition, they’re extra smart, so it’s worth the effort.
May you have a clear sky and open your eyes.