11 August 2011

11 August - Perseids

Weather: Dog Days end [not noticeably]

Astronomy: Now welcome back the Perseid meteor shower, which this year, unfortunately, will be drowned out by the full moon - both of them peak on the same day.  Earthsky lists ways to minimize the moon's impact on your viewing (find yourself a Moon Shadow).

While you can start watching after midnight, the best viewing will be when Perseus is at its highest point in the sky, in the small hours before dawn.  This page shows you what the constellation looks like, and where the radiant point is.  Set up your lounge chair to face north, set your alarm clock for 0-dark-thirty, and enjoy the most spectacular of the meteor showers.

And if the kids have never heard the story of Perseus (or even if they have), point out the constellations of Cassiopeia and Cepheus (two of the easiest constellations to find in the night sky), Andromeda and Pegasus, and even Cetus, the sea monster.  If you really want to impress them with your knowledge of the celestial sky, check out the constellation pages of the American Association of Amateur Astronomers.

Good viewing!