The night sky is a breathtaking spectacle to see every night. But every year, come August, numerous celestial events are worth looking up to, even if you’re not a stargazer. Starting from the annual meteor shower to a one-of-a-kind comet that won’t come back for another few million years, here are all the cool things to see in the sky this upcoming August.
In our opinion, each and every one of these events is worth the trip to a remote, dark location. After all, don’t you think it’s worth driving a few miles to behold a spectacle happening thousands and thousands of miles away?
We mentioned the annual Perseid meteor shower at the beginning of the article, but this year, it’s going to be a little different than usual. Since August's full moon overlaps with the peak of the meteor shower (effectively overshining the meteors), we recommend taking advantage of the darkest days of the month. Try to catch the early start of the meteor shower during the first nights of the month. Contrary to popular belief, watching a meteor shower is best done just before dawn (not in the middle of the night).
Did you know?
Calling this phenomenon a meteor "shower" makes it sound like the meteors are coming toward us. But that is hardly the case. The annual Perseid meteor shower is caused by the journey of the Earth through an ice belt in the Milky Way. This ice belt is the space debris of a comet that completes a circle around the sun every 133 years.
Scientists estimate that in 2,000 years, the comet will hit the Earth with a force much larger than the one that wiped out the dinosaurs. Just reading about it made a chill go down my spine! But knowing that this will be eons in the future provides some comfort.
Did you know you could see the Milky Way with the naked eye? This can only happen during the summer, and August is peak season. As always, a clear, dark night will give you your best shot at a clear view. I like to think of it as sitting and looking out of the window, only that the window is the actual sky, and we’re looking out into the galaxy instead of the street. According to Treehugger, by mid-August, the Milky Way will be visible by 10 PM and directly overhead by midnight.
The meteor shower and the Milky Way will be best seen in the northern to mid-southern hemispheres.
This event will likely not be as interesting to those who don’t take a special interest in either photography or outer space. We are, of course, talking about the last super moon of the year. A 'super moon' is a term used to describe the phenomenon of a full moon reaching its closest approach to Earth. It will peak on the evening of August 11 at 9:36 PM and be visible throughout the entire earth in both hemispheres.
On August 14, Saturn will be the closest it's been to Earth all year. It will also shine brightly enough for you to see it with the naked eye, and with a basic pair of binoculars or a small home telescope, you might even get a glimpse of its rings!
To find it, look for the brightest "star" (actually planet) in the evening sky. That would be Jupiter. You will be able to see Saturn all night long, as it rises just after sunset in the east and sets just after sunrise in the west. If you do bring out a pair of binoculars, make sure you look for Titan- Saturn‘s moon. If the sky will be cloudy or the moon will obscure your planet show, know that Saturn will remain just as bright throughout the month.
Saturn will be visible throughout the entire earth.