Saturday 31 July 2021
sun, moon and stars in august
A falling star comes every three minutes
In the first half of the month, the Perseids Islands zip across the night sky. You can see a meteor every three minutes. The four bright moons of Jupiter offer slower pleasure.
In August, with the onset of dusk, now beginning earlier in the western sky, Venus is the first star to shine. She still plays her role as the evening star. It increases its brightness a little. Just after 10 p.m., our neighboring inner planet fades into mist near the horizon. On August 11th, the crescent moon passes Venus in the evening, a beautiful view of the sky around 9 p.m. in the western sky. On the twenty-first, the bright flower meets the main star of the Leo Regulus, which is much weaker. Binoculars are useful for seeing Regulus at dusk.
At the beginning of the night, the giant planets Jupiter and Saturn rise in the eastern sky. Both dominate the night sky scene in August and can be seen all night long. Brilliant white Jupiter is brighter than dull yellowish Saturn. After Venus fell, Jupiter became by far the brightest planet in the night sky. During its migration, Jupiter crossed the border into the constellation of Capricorn on the nineteenth coming from Aquarius.
A day later, Jupiter is exactly opposite the sun. In this opposite situation, it reaches its smallest distance from us at 600 million kilometers – four times the distance between the Sun and the Earth. Reflected sunlight travels 33 minutes from the king of planets to Earth. On the twenty-second, Jupiter receives a visit from the full moon.
Jupiter’s moons change their positions every day
It is especially attractive to observe the four bright moons of Jupiter using binoculars or a telescope. They change their positions every day. Sometimes they pass in front of Jupiter and cast a shadow on the cloud cover of Jupiter. From time to time, satellites are darkened by the shadow of Jupiter. In addition to Galileo Galilei, the great moons of Jupiter were discovered in 1610, after the invention of the telescope, by Simon Marius, court astronomer Margrave Joachim Ernst in Ansbach, Franconia near Nuremberg. At the suggestion of Johannes Kepler, they were baptized Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. With a diameter of 5,262 kilometers, Ganymede is the largest moon in our solar system. It is larger than the planet Mercury.
Already on August 2, the ring-shaped planet Saturn in the constellation Capricorn stands facing the Sun, separated from Earth by 1,336 million km. It is nine times farther from us than the sun. Titan, the second largest moon in the Solar System, can already be seen with binoculars. Titan needs 16 days to orbit Saturn.
Saturn’s ring is 400 meters thick
Saturn’s magnificent ring can be seen in the telescope. With a diameter of 272,000 kilometers, which is two-thirds of the distance between the Earth and the Moon, but only 400 meters thick, Saturn’s ring is a very thin structure. Billions of ice chunks and dust grains orbit Saturn as tiny moons. With only 100 million years old, Saturn’s brown ring is relatively young compared to the age of Saturn or the Sun of 4.5 billion years. The icy moon was very close to Saturn and was torn apart by tidal forces. As noted by the Cassini space probe, ring particles rain down on Saturn.
In about 100 million years, Saturn’s ring will melt and Saturn will once again orbit the Sun without a ring, which will take 30 years. Mars long withdrew from the evening sky in August and remained invisible. Mercury, the planet closest to the sun, does not appear either.
The moon is at a distance of 4,410 kilometers on the morning of August 2nd. The new moon phase occurs on the eighth at 3:50 pm. At an altitude of 369,120 km, the Moon approaches Earth at approximately 17 noon. The full moon will be reached on the 22nd at 2:02 p.m. In the evening you can see it in the constellation Aquarius, whose stars can hardly be seen because the brightness of the full moon is dazzling. On the night of the 20th of the 21st, the almost full moon meets the ring planet Saturn in Capricorn.
A stream of Perseids brings meteor stars
Many stars can be expected to fall in the first half of August. It can be traced back to the Perseids Stream, whose maximum activity can be expected between August 9 and 13. As the name implies, the meteors of this river flow from the constellation Perseus. The maximum evening hours are expected on the 12th.
But since Perseus is located deep in the northeast at this time, most of the meteor stars can be seen in the early morning hours of the twelfth day. The Perseid meteors arise from the fragments of Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle that have exploded and scattered in its orbit around the Sun.
If the Earth crosses the orbit of this comet, it collides with decay products that penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up. Perseids are rapidly falling stars that plunge into the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of 60 kilometers per second. The rate of falling is 100 meteors per hour. Since one person can only see a fifth of the sky at a time, on average a person only sees Perseid every three minutes.
starry sky triangle summer
The starry sky in the evening is formed by the high summer triangle in the south. It consists of the three stars Wega in the harp, Deneb in the swan, and Atair in the eagle. In the far west, the Bear Guardian, better known as the Arctur, shines bright. Arctur is a reddish giant star in the constellation Bootes or Cattle Shepherd, also known as the Taurus Driver. In the southwest, Scorpio with its red star Antares is on the verge of extinction.
Sagittarius follows Scorpio in the zodiac. To the east of the arch, the pale caribou takes its place. After Capricorn, Aquarius rises in the southeast, which is also a very faint constellation that can only be seen under very good viewing conditions, but hardly above our settlements.
Autumn square rises in the eastern sky. This star square is the main part of the constellation Pegasus. Pegasus is a winged horse for poets to help them move their thoughts. It arose in mythology from the body of the gorgon Medusa after Hercules beheaded. Instead of hair, Medusa only had snakes on her head. Her face was so horrible that anyone who saw it instantly turned to stone. The sun moves on the descending branch of its annual orbit. On the tenth day, I crossed the line from Cancer to Leo. On the twenty-second passes the main star Leo Regulus. At midnight on the 22nd, I entered the constellation Virgo.
The midday sun’s altitude decreases by just over nine degrees in August, and the day length decreases by about two hours at 50 degrees N.
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