Celestial Seasonings – August 2019

By Heather Durham | July 31, 2019

Fiftieth Anniversary of Apollo 11 – Just Past

For the first time in human history, man landed on the moon on Sunday, July 20, 1969. Michael Collins remained in moon orbit with the command module, while two others descended to the surface in the lunar module. Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin served as the lunar module pilot of Apollo 11.

Apollo 11 launched from the Kennedy Space Center at 9:32 am on July 16, 1969.

It took 2 years to locate the appropriate location for landing. Neil Armstrong was the first to set foot on the lunar surface, followed 19 minutes later by Aldrin.

These men located and brought back to Earth, 47.5 pounds of lunar material. The astronauts returned on July 24, 1969, after spending 8 days in space.

There were and are many celebrations for this 50th anniversary. This past January, the U.S. Mint released a 50th anniversary coin.

August 1 – New Moon

The new moon begins a two-week waxing (or increasing) phase that culminates in the full moon. Once visible, this would be a superb time to view other celestial events because the waxing crescent is visible in the evening sky.

August 8 – Venus at Perihelion

During which Venus is at its closest approach to the sun, a distance is 107,477,000 km. (66,783,111 miles).

August 9 – Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation

Mercury reaches elongation at 18.3 degrees from the sun. It might be viewed at dawn depending upon the weather conditions at that time.

August 12, 13 – Perseid Meteor Shower

The Perseid Meteor showers come from a debris stream that surrounds the 133-year orbit of the Swift-Tuttle comet. Beginning in 1865, a young filament from the stream gives a mini peak display before the maximum shower occurred. At peak, meteor rates may reach 60 or more per hour.

These particles slam into Earth’s atmosphere so fast that it doesn’t take a large particle to put on quite a fantastic show. Actually the meteors are no bigger than a grain of sand or a pea. The show is produced by the kinetic energy that changes to heat caused by friction in the upper atmosphere,

Although these may not be that prolific this August due to the full moon, there should be 10-15 meteors per hour … a substantially lesser amount that in other years like 2016.

This month’s shower should be at its strongest right after the comet passes along the portion of its orbit that meets the Earth’s orbit as well as after it passes near the sun.

August 14 – Venus at Superior Solar Conjunction

While not visible with the Sun in the sky, Venus may be seen passing through the evening sky.

August 15 – Full Moon

August 30 – New Moon

Having two new moons in the same calendar month happens only once in every two to three years. (New moons are not lit, so there is nothing lunar to see).


References:

Lewin, Sarah. (2019, January 8). Perseid Meteor Shower 2019: When, Where & How to See It. Retrieved from www.space.com/32868-perseid-meteor-shower-guide.html

Powell, Martin J. (2019). Mercury. Retrieved from www.nakedeyeplanets.com

Sky & Telescope. (2019). Meteor Showers. Retrieved from www.skyandtelescope.com

Wikipedia. (2019, July 30). Apollo 11. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_11

Wikipedia. (2019, July 27). Moon. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon

Wikipedia. (2019, March 11). Perseids. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perseids

 

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