EYES ON THE NIGHT SKY: AUGUST 2019

Perseids (NASA/Bill Ingalls
Date: 
8 months 2 weeks ago

Welcome to Eyes on the Night Sky for August. In many areas of the UK, the nights are dark enough to see the majestic Milky Way emerge into the southern sky – look out for it from around 10.45pm as darkness descends and marvel at the misty band of stars which comprises the Galactic Core and the Sagittarius Arm. You will need a rural sky away from light pollution to see the Milky Way in all its glory. 

Jupiter and Saturn

Jupiter Moon and Saturn

Jupiter and Saturn are the show piece planets this month; although they aren’t well placed in the sky, you can still enjoy the prominent glow of Jupiter and Saturn either side of the Milky Way. A telescope will reveal more treasures – Saturn’s rings are well presented as they are tilted towards us.

Voyager 1's photograph of Saturn taken in 1980Credit: NASA

Look out for the Cassini Division which is the black stripe near the outer circumference of the rings (pictured above) with a telescope under still skies. This photograph was taken by Voyager 1 in 1980, on its journey to get a closer look at Titan, one of Saturn’s 62 moons.

Best Meteor Shower of 2019

Perseids

This meteor shower is known to be the best of the astronomy season and peaks in the early hours of 13th August. This year, the Full Moon will hamper a great show of many meteors but find a spot away from the glow of the Moon and you may see some 'shooting stars', as evidenced by the photograph above, taken during a Full Moon. The Perseids, also known as the ‘Tears of St. Lawrence’,  are caused by the Earth passing through the orbit of the comet Swift-Tuttle which has left debris in its wake. 

The New Moon occurs on both 1st and 30th August and the Full Moon on 15th August.

A Secret Find

Star map for Stock 2

This object is not well documented but fun to discover with binoculars.  Named Stock 2, this rather unexciting designation will surprise you when you see it. It lies slightly above and north of the showpiece Double Cluster and few have seen it. It isn't hard to find but exercise patience as you scan your binoculars northwards of the Double Cluster. It resembles a headless stick man flexing his muscles and for that reason it is also known as The Muscleman Cluster. Look for the string of stars that the muscleman is pulling from the Double Cluster. It lies around 1000 light years away from us and is thought to be an older open cluster, as most of the stars appear to be white.