Here are some sky watching events for the summer season. Of course you don’t need a reason to go out and watch the night sky, there’s always something to see!
July 28-29: Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower
The Delta Aquarids will peak during the early morning hours of July 28 and 29, up to 20 meteors an hour may be visible from dark locations. In spite of the waning moon, skywatchers can still expect to see plenty of shooting stars. And since it’s summer, it will be pleasant watching.
July 29: Aldebaran Occultation
The brilliant orange star Aldebaran, the “eye” of Taurus, will be eclipsed by the waning gibbous moon in an event astronomers call an occultation. This disappearing act will be visible throughout Central America, eastern North America, southern Europe, and North Africa. The occultation will happen in the dawn twilight when the moon will be low in the east-northeast sky.
August 12-13: Perseid Meteor Shower
The main skywatching event during northern summer is the Perseid meteor shower. With moonless overnight hours during the shower’s peak, dozens of shooting stars an hour are expected to be visible across much of the northern half of the globe. This is always the main meteor shower event, the weather is pleasant, you know summer is winding down, so there are lots of wishes to be made.
August 16: Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation
After making headlines with its transit of the sun back in May, Mercury will be putting on its next best show for skywatchers this year around mid-August. On August 16, the innermost planet will reach its maximum distance from the sun, taking it farther out of the solar glare and making it easier to spot with the naked eye.
August 27: Venus and Jupiter Conjunction
Look toward the western sky for the two brightest neighboring planets, Venus and Jupiter, in a spectacularly close encounter visible with the naked eye. The two star-like objects will almost appear to be touching, even though they are actually separated by hundreds of millions of miles.
September 1: Annular Solar Eclipse
Lucky observers in parts of Africa will be treated to an annular solar eclipse, also known also as a ring of fire. This occurs when the moon is farther away from Earth, so it does not cover the entire disk of the sun during the eclipse.
September 2: Neptune at Opposition
Catching sight of far-off Neptune, the eighth planet in our solar system, is normally challenging. But in September it will be at its biggest and brightest in our skies, offering the best opportunity of the year to hunt it down with a telescope.
September 16: Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
On this day, Earth’s moon will appear to enter our planet’s outer shadow cone, distinctively darkening the lunar landscape. While North Americans will miss out, this special celestial event will grace the skies across most of the rest of the world.