August is a good month for taking a look at the sky above you. There are three easily viewable events this year.
Please remember though, NEVER look directly at the Sun. Direct observation either with or without optical aid is to be avoided unless correct filters are used. Instead project the Sun’s image through a pair of binoculars or a telescope onto a sheet of white card at the focal point. Observation of the projected image is therefore perfectly safe.
- A partial solar eclipse will be visible on Friday, 1st August. About 25% of the Sun will be hidden between about 10:00 – 10:30 BST. However, you probably won’t be able to notice any difference in the amount of daylight.
- The Perseid meteor shower is due to peak between 11-12th August. There should be increasing activity towards dawn on the 12th, and as the waxing gibbous moon sets at about 23:20 on August 11, an early morning vigil may be called for. During this time, a meteor a minute may be seen coming from the direction of Perseus (just below Cassiopeia).
The Perseid meteors are produced by debris from Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. Incoming meteoroids can be travelling as fast as 60 km/s as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere.
- On the 16th August, there will be a partial eclipse of the Moon which is perfectly safe to observe directly. The eclipse starts at 20:43 with the moon just above the horizon in the east-south-east. Mid-eclipse, when a little over 81% of the Moon is immersed in the Earth’s shadow, is at 22:10 with the Moon lying only 12° above the south east horizon. Partiality ends at 23:45 and throughout the eclipse the Moon’s north polar regions remain outside of the Earth’s shadow and appear dazzlingly white in contrast to the eclipsed portion.