Wait, that’s astrology…here we are going to talk astronomy!
The solar eclipse is getting major news coverage this month. Do a quick search and a multitude of videos, maps, news stories, celebration ideas, and more will pop up and make you want to have this as a national holiday. For many astronomical gazers though, it’s more than an excuse to step outside for 30 minutes (the total process of the eclipse is about 2 1/2 hours) during work time. There are many who travel the globe to witness total solar eclipses, which happen every 18 months on average. There are too many stories to give examples here, so I’ll just say that you don’t have to be an astrophysicist to appreciate a total solar eclipse–it’s science phenomenon and awe-inspiring all in one. Here in the U.S., a total solar eclipse hasn’t crossed in almost 40 years and won’t cross again for almost 10 years. So, the mania ensues, as only it can in the United States. We won’t be able to see…actually, don’t look right at it what with the whole “staring at the sun will make you go blind” stuff…we won’t be able to experience a total solar eclipse here in Michigan. Looking at the eclipse map from Great American Eclipse we will be experiencing a 0.8 magnitude between 1:15pm and 2:30pm. Here is the link to the map.
Have I used the word “eclipse” enough yet? Change of pace then, meteor shower. The Perseid Meteor Shower is an annual occurrence that peaks during the month of August. The video below has a great description of meteor showers, in particular the Perseid MS. As seemingly common as meteor showers are they are still a great astronomy event. Peak nights for the shower are August 11, 12, and 13 (that’s this weekend, by the way). If you miss it, the showers will still be visible, albeit at a lesser rate, until the end of August. The moon phase (waning gibbous) may hinder the view-ability of the meteor shower on it’s peak nights, though. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying a summer evening outdoors, staring up at the sky, and unraveling the mysteries of those star crossed lovers.