Posts under tag: meteor showers
Sunsets at PMO rapidly become earlier in August – from about 8:30 p.m. at the outset to about 7:45 p.m. at the end. This means you won’t have to wait as long to see the Milky Way and some great “deep sky” objects, but do plan on arriving at or shortly after sunset if you want to observe the planets Jupiter (now getting lower in the southwestern sky) and Saturn. Mars and Neptune are the only planets we’ll observe after dark – between about 11 p.m. and the end of most tours (around midnight). By the end of August, these times will be one hour earlier (about 10 p.m. instead of 11 p.m.). The annual Perseid Meteor shower peaks on the night of Saturday-Sunday August 11-12 – see the separate blog post below.
Aug 3-4 – Last quarter moon doesn’t rise until after midnight, so won’t interfere with viewing.
Aug 10-11 – New moon weekend! Excellent viewing of “deep sky” objects and the meteor shower, weather permitting. Arrive early if you want to camp.
Aug 17-18 – First quarter moon sets around midnight (a little later on Saturday night), so will have some interference with “deep sky” viewing, but an excellent opportunity to see the moon itself.
Aug 24-25 – Bright almost full moon interferes with viewing all night (avoid this weekend if possible).
The Perseid Meteor Shower, caused by debris shed by Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle entering the Earth’s atmosphere, is one of the astronomical highlights of the year for many observers. This year’s shower is expected to peak sometime on Sunday, August 12, when there is no moonlight interference, however the peak may happen during daylight for North American observers. The meteors radiate from the constellation of Perseus in the northeast, but can appear in any part of the sky, including along the band of the Milky Way. The shower will still be visible on Sunday night and Monday morning (August 12-13), but keep in mind that PMO is not open to the public that night, so you may need to view the meteors from the campground area if you do choose that night.
Important reminder: PMO is NOT in the path of totality for the August 21 total solar eclipse, and will NOT be open that day or the weekend of August 18-20. For a possible eclipse viewing site, see https://www.oregonsolarfest.com/. The eclipse at PMO will be 98.9% partial in terms of “obscuration,” or fraction of the Sun’s area covered. That is still about 1,000 times too bright to observe the Sun’s faint outer atmosphere, or corona.
Sunsets at PMO rapidly become earlier in August – from about 8:30 p.m. at the outset to about 7:45 p.m. at the end. This means you won’t have to wait as long to see the Milky Way and some great “deep sky” objects, but do plan on arriving at or shortly after sunset if you want to observe the planets Jupiter (now getting quite low in the western sky) and Saturn. Neptune is the only planet we’ll observe after dark – near the end of most tours, a little before midnight.
The annual Perseid meteor shower peaks on Saturday August 12, and should be good both that morning from about midnight to 4 a.m., and that evening before midnight. You’re welcome to visit, camp if desired, look up at the sky and enjoy the meteor show. However, the moon will be bright.
Aug 4-5 – bright almost full moon interferes with viewing all night (avoid this weekend if possible); Aug 11-12 – moon still bright and rises 11 to 11:30 p.m., interfering with meteor watching, but allowing an hour or so of dark sky viewing before moonrise; Aug 18-19 – Sorry, PMO is closed due to the total solar eclipse on Monday. The campground is expected to remain open, but you will need your own viewing equipment; Aug 25-26 – crescent moon sets by about 11 p.m., won’t interfere with public viewing. To see the moon itself (which will be low in the sky), please arrive early, by 8:30 p.m. (Jupiter will also be very low below the moon on the 25th.)
Sunsets at PMO rapidly become earlier in August – from about 8:30 p.m. at the outset to about 7:45 p.m. at the end. This means you won’t have to wait as long to see the Milky Way and some great “deep sky” objects, but do plan on arriving at or shortly after sunset if you want to observe the planets (Jupiter, Mars and Saturn – with Jupiter too low for the 24-inch telescope by about mid-month, but Venus will join Jupiter very low in the western sky the final weekend of August). Neptune (and possibly Uranus) are the only planets we’ll observe after dark – near the end of most tours, a little before midnight.
The annual Perseid Meteor shower peaks August 11th,Thursday evening into the early morning hours of Friday August 12, best from about midnight to 4 a.m. Although the telescopes won’t be open Thursday night, you’re welcome to visit, camp if desired, look up at the sky and enjoy the meteor show. The moon sets that night about 1 a.m. We will be open the evening of Friday August 12th.
Moon information: Aug 5-6 – thin crescent moon (just below Jupiter on 8/5); Aug 12-13 – bright moon interferes with viewing, but will be visible during tours; Aug 19-20 – moon still bright (shortly after full moon) and rises by 9:30 p.m., limiting dark sky viewing; Aug 26-27 – waning moon doesn’t rise until after 1:30 a.m., won’t interfere with normal public viewing.
Update (5/24) – The shower was a disappointment, although some people did see a few shower meteors. (I saw two, at about 12:28 and 12:32 a.m.) The comet was probably too inactive to produce much dust for meteors. I’ll attempt to image the comet this week, but direct telescopic viewing will likely not be possible. But there are plenty of other nice sky objects to view; maybe even a different comet!
As noted in the Sky & Telescope article, http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/observing-news/mays-surprise-meteor-shower/, “Dim, obscure periodic comet 209P/LINEAR is about to pass close to Earth — and bring with it a trail of debris that could make for an exciting meteor shower in May, during the predawn hours of the 24th.” The show will begin shortly after dark this Friday night and is expected to peak around midnight Pacific Daylight Time. The meteors will appear to radiate from the northern constellation of Camelopardalis, about 12 deg below (and a little to the west) of Polaris, but meteors may appear in any part of the sky.
This is the opening night at PMO, and we’ll try to see the comet and the meteors if weather conditions permit, but for meteor watching you don’t need a telescope or any special equipment; just go outside (preferably in a location at least a little away from city lights), dress warmly, recline in a comfortable chair if possible and look up at the sky. If you do decide to visit PMO, please see the visitor information elsewhere on this website. Our educational program will begin around sunset at about 8:30 p.m., and we’ll also be viewing the planets Jupiter, Mars and Saturn starting around 9:00 p.m.
The comet itself will be closest to Earth on May 29, so we’ll also attempt to view it the weekend of May 30-31.