Hooray! Three cheers! I’m posting this a few days after the beginning of the month so we can all share the celebration – at 01:06 on Monday the 3rd of August, the Sun dipped 18º below the horizon and true darkness returned to the skies around Kendal. Only for about twenty minutes, mind, but the nights are drawing in again!
Here’s a summary of what’s going to get me out under the night sky this month. For a more comprehensive list of what’s worth looking for during August, I recommend Ian Morison’s excellent guide on the Jodrell Bank website here.
Perseids meteor shower
This year the peak of the Perseids meteor shower will be around the 11th/12th, coinciding pretty well with the New Moon, so the opportunity for a good show might be on the cards. Keep an eye open for Stuart’s announcement of an EAS night out to view this event.
If you can’t make it to the EAS night, don’t forget to take a look any time a few nights before or after the peak, when there is always a chance of a good display.
Very much in the news at the moment, Pluto is briefly above the southern horizon during August. Never an easy horizon from Kendal, owing to the light pollution in that direction, it might repay a trip out to Scout Scar or Helsington Church. At magnitude 14, you will need a ten inch telescope for visual observation, but a long exposure photo might also be worth a try. If you’re tempted, here’s a guide for mid-August at the end of dusk, looking S/SW:
Yes, the one that the EAS Rosetta probe is orbiting, and where the Philae lander bounced around on the surface! Now it’s coming into view in the very early morning skies.
Here’s a guide to the location in mid-August, at the crack of dawn, with the constellation of Gemini lying on its side on the eastern horizon. The comet will be less than 10º above the horizon as dawn breaks, and a target for larger telescopes given its magnitude of 13+ , but what a challenge for the keen astrophotographer!
Moon conjunction with Saturn
On Saturday the 22nd, there’s a great opportunity to catch the Moon and Saturn setting together in the west. From Helsington this one should be pretty good. Here’s a guide shot at 22:45, framed for a 300mm lens through a DSLR.