The second week of August is my favorite time of the year. It’s the beautiful seasonal transition of hot summer nights to a cooler romantic autumn. As they say, Fall in Love….
And what is more romantic that witnessing an annual astronomical event that also takes place during this time of the year, the Perseid Meteor Shower…
The Perseid Meteor Shower occurs from late July to early August, with its peak activity between August 9 – August 14. The earth passes through the debris of the Comet Swift-Tuttle– in the night sky the glittery shower appear to emit from the constellation Perseus, taking its name from the word Perseides (in Greek Mythology “sons of Perseus”).
From tonight, August 11th, until August 13th, we will see the best meteor shower of the year- with over 60, and as high as a hundred meteor showers in the night sky. The best time to witness this blizzard of shooting stars is the darkest hours predawn. This year we are in for a treat as the brightest planets will also make a special appearance, lining up right in the middle of the meteor shower. NASA says, “Jupiter, Venus, and the crescent moon are gathering together just as the Perseid Meteor shower reaches its peak.” Just bedazzling.
To my fellow stargazers, NASA requests that you count the number of shooting stars you see and report it to them. These figures can be used by NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office to study and model the Perseid debris stream. For iPhone and Android users, you can download NASA’s official app, Meteor Counter. The meteor show begins around 11pm local time wherever you might be Saturday night.
Have a romantic weekend everyone, if you’re planning on watching the meteor showers outdoors on top of a hill somewhere, don’t forget to bring comfortable chairs and blankets, food, drinks (hot coffee) and bug spray!
A rare and beautiful astronomical event will take place tomorrow, Tuesday, June 5th, 2012.
The planet Venus will be in transit…. passing directly between the Sun and the Earth and becoming visible to us as a small, dark disk moving across the face of the Sun.
photo from ecorazzi.com
The only planetary transits observable on Earth are of Mercury and Venus. Mercury has an average of 13 transits every 100 years. The Transit of Venus, however is phenomenal, occurring in a pattern that repeats every 243 years, with a pair of transits eight years apart. In this century, the prior transit was on June 8, 2004. After 2012, the next transit of Venus will take place in December 2117!
The entire event will be widely visible from the western Pacific, northwester North America, eastern Asia (including Japan and the Philippines) and eastern Australia.
I can honestly say that I will not be holding on until 2117 to witness the next transit of Venus, which is why I am dedicating a few hours of my afternoon to catch a glimpse and say my aloha to the beautiful planet. Lucky I am an island girl and live in Hawaii, as it is one of the best locations to witness this spectacular occasion.
According to transitofvenus.org, the local transit times in Honolulu are between 12pm – 6pm.
NASA EDGE at Mauna Kea (through partnership with UH Institute of Astronomy on the Big Island of Hawaii) will also be having a live webcast during this time. Watch it here.
When viewing the sun, take precautions! Construct a pinhole-camera, or a pinhole mirror. If available utilize binoculars or a telescope, but remember, do not look DIRECTLY at the sun! Venus should appear as a tiny dot on the projected image. You can also consider purchasing a shade 13 or 14 arc-welder’s glass.
Hope everyone can get to see The Transit of Venus; you won’t want to miss such an astonishing occurrence of this lifetime.