The Sky Tonight Update: August 21, Total Solar Eclipse

Total Solar Eclipse

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon completely blocks the Sun, revealing the Sun’s beautiful outer atmosphere known as the corona. This is a rare, once-in-a-lifetime event for viewers in the United States. The last total solar eclipse visible in the continental United States occurred in 1979 and the next one will not take place until 2024. The path of totality will begin in the Pacific Ocean and travel through the center of the United States. The total eclipse will be visible in parts of Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina before ending in the Atlantic Ocean. A partial eclipse will be visible in most of North America and parts of northern South America.

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The Sky Tonight Update: August 12-13, Perseids Meteor Shower

Perseids Meteor Shower

The Perseids is one of the best meteor showers to observe, producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by comet Swift-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1862. The Perseids are famous for producing a large number of bright meteors. The shower runs annually from July 17 to August 24. It peaks this year on the night of August 12 and the morning of August 13. The waning gibbous moon will block out many of the fainter meteors this year, but the Perseids are so bright and numerous that it should still be a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Perseus, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

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The Sky Tonight Update: August 7, Full Moon

full moon, sky tonight update

This August 7, the Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 18:11 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Sturgeon Moon because the large sturgeon fish of the Great Lakes and other major lakes were more easily caught at this time of year. This moon has also been known as the Green Corn Moon and the Grain Moon.

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The Sky Tonight Update: August 7, Partial Lunar Eclipse

Partial Lunar Eclipse

This August 7, a partial lunar eclipse will occur.  This happens when the Moon passes through the Earth’s partial shadow, or penumbra, and only a portion of it passes through the darkest shadow, or umbra. During this type of eclipse a part of the Moon will darken as it moves through the Earth’s shadow. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of eastern Africa, central Asia, the Indian Ocean, and Australia. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)

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The Sky Tonight Update: July 9, Full Moon

full moon, sky tonight update

This July 9, the Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 04:07 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Buck Moon because the male buck deer would begin to grow their new antlers at this time of year. This moon has also been known as the Full Thunder Moon and the Full Hay Moon.

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The Sky Tonight Update: June 21, June Solstice

June Solstice

The June solstice occurs at 04:24 UTC. The North Pole of the earth will be tilted toward the Sun, which will have reached its northernmost position in the sky and will be directly over the Tropic of Cancer at 23.44 degrees north latitude. This is the first day of summer (summer solstice) in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of winter (winter solstice) in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Sky Tonight Update: June 15, Saturn at Opposition

Saturn at Opposition

This June 15, Saturn will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. It will be brighter than any other time of the year and will be visible all night long. This is the best time to view and photograph Saturn and its moons. A medium-sized or larger telescope will allow you to see Saturn’s rings and a few of its brightest moons.

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