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6 Sky Events This Week: Chance of Sky Lights and Shooting Stars

The giant star cluster known as the Beehive or Messier 44 in the constellation Cancer, the crab is easy to find this week thanks to its proximity to Jupiter this week. Credit: SkySafari
The giant star cluster known as the Beehive or Messier 44 in the constellation Cancer, the crab, is easy to find this week, thanks to its proximity to Jupiter. Courtesy: SkySafari

 

Lunar and planetary spectacles fill the starry skies this week, alongside the chance of auroras and shooting stars.

Perseids trickle. Late night on Monday, look for stragglers from the Perseids meteor shower. While it peaked a week ago, the shooting stars will continue to fly until August 24.

According to the international observing reports, the Perseids topped out at about 65 meteors per hour in the early morning hours of August 13, which is more modest than other years. This week, astronomers expect to see as many as a dozen meteors per hour during peak shower time—between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.—each and every morning blessed with clear skies.

Helping you make the most of what remains of the Perseids, the moon will be in its waning crescent phase, much better than the glare of the full moon last week.

Aurora alert. Also be on the lookout for northern lights starting after nightfall on Monday and toward midnight. According to spaceweather.com, a weak coronal mass ejection—a fast-moving cloud of charged particles expelled from the sun—will slam into Earth’s magnetic field later that day. NOAA forecasters are predicting a 30 percent chance of a geomagnetic storm, particularly for high latitudes.

For the best chance of seeing auroras, find a spot in a dark location away from city lights and face the northern sky. Look for ghostly green glows to appear near the horizon. And don’t forget to cross your fingers!

Moon visits Aldebaran. If you managed to stay up for the Perseids, then why not check out the moon parked near the bright orange star Aldebaran? The lunar rendezvous will come to pass just before local dawn on Tuesday, August 19.

The waning crescent moon will be to the lower right of the 66-light-year-distant red giant that marks the eye of the constellation of Taurus, the bull.

The cosmic pair will be appear separated by about 8 degrees, a bit less than the width of your fist held at arm’s length.

Beehive buzzes planets. And if you missed the close conjunction on Monday morning between Venus and Jupiter, it’s not too late. The planetary duo will appear only 1 degree apart on Tuesday and 2 degrees apart on Wednesday, August 20.

Look to the upper left of fainter Jupiter for the Beehive star cluster (Messier 44). Best seen about an hour to half hour before sunrise, binoculars and telescopes will help cut through the glow of the approaching dawn. Sitting some 610 light-years away, the Beehive consists of about 1,000 stars stretching across some 24 light-years of space.

This sky chart show the moon lining up with both Venus and Jupiter int he early morning southeast skies this week. Credit: SkySafari
This sky chart shows the moon lining up with both Venus and Jupiter in the early morning southeast skies this week. Credit: SkySafari

Worlds align. Early bird sky-watchers heading outside at dawn on Friday, August 22, and looking toward the low southeast can catch the moon form a beautiful lineup with Venus and Jupiter.

Celestial triangle. By the next morning, Saturday, August 23, the waning crescent moon will sink to just below the planetary pairing. Best seen with binoculars, the triangular pattern will span some 8 degrees, filling your field of view.

Follow Andrew Fazekas, the Night Sky Guy, on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. David
    Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England
    September 7, 3:24 pm

    Last Saturday (Aug 29th) saw huge white shooting star with two smaller ones either side of it. It also had a green halo around it in the shape of an arrow head. It was about the size of your finger nail if you hold out your arm, It made me leap out of my chair! Don’t think thats going to happen again soon.

  2. Dipa Barrow
    London
    September 7, 3:02 pm

    Watching the moon rise it’s big and bright so by Tuesday it will be a Supermoon!

  3. Caroline
    University Park, PA
    September 4, 11:37 am

    Saw a shooting star over State College at about 7:40-7:50 on September 3rd

  4. Kim
    United States
    September 2, 7:51 pm

    Today I saw something that acted like a shooting star, but it was bigger and around 1 pm. Has anyone else seen something like this in the middle of the day?

  5. Donna
    Crawley, West Sussex
    August 30, 6:20 pm

    Just seen my second shooting star in 2 weeks. I was just in the garden wondering if I’ll ever see another when there it went. So beautiful.

  6. toni
    papakura
    August 28, 4:15 am

    I have seen 4 shooting stars now

  7. amy
    hinckley
    August 26, 11:41 pm

    I could swear ive just seen a shootin star and some of them floatin ones aswell is this poss