Astronomy Events for August – 2017

A quick review of the astronomical events and historical events for the month.  These are just a few of the things we would like to highlight, and if there are things that should be added for whatever reason, please let us know and we will be glad to make those changes. Happy Viewing and check in with our website on a regular basis for more information, updates, and other cool activities that are occurring.

Astronomical Events

August 7 – Full Moon. The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 18:11 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Sturgeon Moon because the large sturgeon fish of the Great Lakes and other major lakes were more easily caught at this time of year. This moon has also been known as the Green Corn Moon and the Grain Moon.

August 7 – Partial Lunar Eclipse. A partial lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the Earth’s partial shadow, or penumbra, and only a portion of it passes through the darkest shadow, or umbra. During this type of eclipse a part of the Moon will darken as it moves through the Earth’s shadow. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of eastern Africa, central Asia, the Indian Ocean, and Australia. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)

August 12, 13 – Perseids Meteor Shower. The Perseids is one of the best meteor showers to observe, producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by comet Swift-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1862. The Perseids are famous for producing a large number of bright meteors. The shower runs annually from July 17 to August 24. It peaks this year on the night of August 12 and the morning of August 13. The waning gibbous moon will block out many of the fainter meteors this year, but the Perseids are so bright and numerous that it should still be a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Perseus, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

August 21 – New Moon. The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 18:30 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

August 21 – Total Solar Eclipse. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon completely blocks the Sun, revealing the Sun’s beautiful outer atmosphere known as the corona. This is a rare, once-in-a-lifetime event for viewers in the United States. The last total solar eclipse visible in the continental United States occurred in 1979 and the next one will not take place until 2024. The path of totality will begin in the Pacific Ocean and travel through the center of the United States. The total eclipse will be visible in parts of Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina before ending in the Atlantic Ocean. A partial eclipse will be visible in most of North America and parts of northern South America.

Historical Events

  • August 17th, 1933 the Group for the Study of Reactive Motion (GIRD) launches the 1st Soviet Liquid Fueled Rocket
  • August 21st, 1857 The USSR launches the 1st ICBM Intercontinental Ballistic Missile
  • August 7th, 1959 NASA achieves the first photograph of Earth from orbit
  • August 19th, 1960 the USSR has historic achievement of the first planets and animals to return alive from Earth Orbit
  • August 1966 NASA probe Lunar Orbiter 1 becomes the first probe to map the moon.
  • August 4th, 1969 NASA probe Mariner 7 takes the first photograph of Mars’ moon Phobos from space.
  • August 8th, 1989 ESA launches Hipparcos, the first astrometric satellite
  • August 25th, 1989 NASA probe Voyager 2 performs the first Neptune flyby, which has its closest approach at 29,240 km.
  • August 25th, 2012 Voyager 1 enters interstellar space
  • August 10th, 2015 NASA and JAXA astronauts eat lettuce in space, which is the first food that was grown in space

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