Photo of the Week.Before the chill of winter comes
the beauty of Fall and its clear skies.
Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, August 8, 2014.
The Moon starts our week late in its waxing
gibbous phase, which ends at full
Moon on Sunday, August 10, during the day around noon in North
America when it is quite out of sight. The Moon will thus rise
the night of Saturday the 9th just short of full and the night of
Sunday the 10th just past that phase as it begins to gibbously wane. Last
quarter is not passed until Sunday the 17th. Sadly the Moon
makes no passages by any planets except for Neptune and Uranus (on Monday the 11th and Thursday the 14th) as it
works its way up to and past the celestial equator into the northern celestial hemisphere. On Sunday the
10th the Moon passes perigee, when
it is closest to the Earth, to the hour the same time as it
achieves full phase, the coincidence bringing especially high and
low tides to the ocean coasts.
In the planetary realm, Mars continues its
rapid trek to the east against the background stars as it
continues to pull away from Spica
in Virgo and head toward Saturn in Libra, the two
bright planets quite obvious. But you have to look early, as Mars
is gone by 11 PM Daylight Time, and if you have any horizon
obstructions, well before that. Saturn follows a little over half
an hour later. On the other side of the sky, Venus begins to rise shortly after the break of dawn, followed
by Jupiter. Mercury is impossible, as it passes superior conjunction
with the Sun
(the planet to the rear) on Friday the 8th.
All year we wait for the king of annual meteor showers, the Perseids, which will peak the night of Tuesday the
12th and the morning of Wednesday the 13th. They are the debris
of comet Swift-
Tuttle, which returns to us every 133 years and last came by
in 1995. Unfortunately, the shower, which usually feeds us 60-100
meteors per hour that seem to emanate from the constellation Perseus, will be mostly ruined by the
brightness of the waning gibbous Moon.