What’s Up for July? Prep for the August solar eclipse by observing the moon’s phases, plus catch 2 meteor showers.
Solar eclipses occur when the new moon passes between Earth and the sun, and the moon casts a traveling shadow on Earth.
A total solar eclipse occurs when the new moon is in the right position to exactly cover the sun’s disk. This will happen next month—when the new moon will completely block our view of the sun along a narrow path from Oregon to South Carolina. During August’s total solar eclipse it should be dark enough to see some of the brighter stars and a few planets!
Two weeks before or after solar eclipse there is sometimes, but not always a lunar eclipse someplace on Earth—though it’s not necessarily a total lunar eclipse. This will happen because the moon will be at opposition. The full moon and Earth and the sun will be lined up – with Earth in the middle.
We can see all the moon’s phases beginning on July 1st, when the first quarter moon rises at noon and sets at midnight. Even through binoculars you’ll see craters and some of the prominent mare or “seas”.
Here you can see where Apollo 11 Landed and Neil Armstrong first stepped foot on the Moon – July 20, 1969. In 2 years we will celebrate the 50th Anniversary.
Some of the Apollo lunar landing sites are located on the lit side of the first Quarter moon. To see the landing sites, though, you’ll have to rely on photographs taken by lunar orbiting spacecraft.
On July 9th the full moon rises at sunset over Mount Baker and sets at dawn over Metchosin and the Sooke Hills.
July 16 is the last quarter. It rises at midnight and doesn’t set until noon–allowing you to enjoy a nice moon view in the morning sky.
The new moon occurs July 23rd. The new moon is the phase we’ll look forward to in August when it’ll give us that total solar eclipse. July will end with another first quarter moon phase on the 30th.
Finally, we have two good meteor showers this month, both peaking on the morning of July 30th. Meteor showers occur when Earth passes through the long tail of ancient comets. As these tails are millions of kilometers in length usually also orbiting the sun, the showers occur at the same time of the year, each year as the Earth rotates around the Sun.
The southern Delta Aquarids have a maximum rate of 25 meteors per hour and radiate from a point in the sky above Port Angeles – between midnight and dawn.
The nearby slow and bright Alpha Capricornids peak at a “neck breaking (ie few)” 5 per hour but often produce fireballs. These radiate from very close by also over Port Angeles.
If you see some meteors in the Northern sky, those will be early a preview of the August Perseids!
Finally I would be reminiscent in my article if I did not comment on this months BBC sponsored
Sky at Night magazine. Yes they are finally asking “Did Life Come from Space”? I wonder what you think?
You can catch up on all of NASA’s missions at www.nasa.gov
You can learn all about the total solar eclipse next month at https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/
You can catch up on solar system missions and all of NASA’s missions at www.nasa.gov
Should you wish to meet the RASCals of Cattle Point – see Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/groups/VictoriaRASCals/
Dark Skies to all friends of Cattle Point Star Park.
Summary is from the transcript of “What’s Up in July 2017” by NASA announcer and astronomer Jane Houston Jones with specific permission for localization to Cattle Point DARK SKY Urban Star Park and the Oak Bay News. You can subscribe to her weekly BLOG at : http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/category/10things