Backyard Astronomy: August 2015

Here are some fun astronomical events you and your family can enjoy in the month of August. All you need is an inexpensive telescope or binoculars for most of these events, but some of them are viewable with the naked eye.

August 7: Mercury, Jupiter, and Regulus will be within one degree of each other in the sky.

August 12-13: Perseids Meteor Shower. Meteor showers occur when the Earth moves through a cloud of debris left behind by a comet. The Perseids are debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle. As meteor showers go, this one is top-notch, producing many bright streaks and up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. The shower runs every year from July 17th to August 24th, but will peak on the night of the 12th and the early morning of the 13th. Look in the direction of the constellation Perseus after midnight for your best chance.

August 19: Mars will appear to cross in front of the Beehive Cluster, an open cluster of stars located in the constellation Cancer.

August 29: Super Moon. The Moon will be at its closest approach to the Earth during its full moon phase, making it a little bigger and brighter than usual. This will be the first of three Super Moons for 2015.