The month of August means many things to many people. It signifies the end of summer for many students returning to school; a month to travel for many vacationers; and it is becoming known as one of the most amazing months to witness the wonders of our universe. This August boasts many astronomical phenomena to thrill star-gazers of all ages. Among these awesome sights is the Perseid meteor shower, a supermoon and the planetary conjunction of Jupiter and Venus.
Many of you probably noticed our exceptionally large and bright full moon yesterday. This ‘Supermoon’ is defined as a new or full moon which occurs with the moon at or near its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit. Yesterday was the 4th supermoon of 2014 and the closest occurrence of the year. Hopefully, you were all able to experience the beauty of this sight. The only downside of this event is that it is coinciding with the Perseid meteor shower but you might still be able to see some of the shower by viewing between midnight and dawn and staying away from city lights.
The Perseid meteors can be seen every August because that is when Earth crosses the orbit of Comet Swift-Tuttle. The debris from this comet vaporizes in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and the result lights up the night sky with streaking Perseid meteors. This meteor shower lasts several days and will peak during the nights of August 11-13. At its peak, the shower consists of 50-100 meteors per hour.
The final cool astronomical event happening this August is the planetary conjunction of Jupiter and Venus. People in the eastern United States will be able to enjoy a rare occurrence when these two planets will be only 12 arc minutes apart, which is less than half the width of the full moon. That’s under half the width of your little finger held out at arm’s length. If you are in a favorable location simply look eastward an hour or more before sunrise, starting in the days before mid-August. If you watch every morning, you will notice that Jupiter will edge closer and closer to Venus until they reach their closest on August 18th.
If you enjoy astronomy, then you will love our beautiful Mova globes. Each Mova globe is not only a stunning piece of art but as you take it out of the box you understand that it is not your typical globe. As the ambient light in the room shines on the globe you will begin to notice that it actually spins! Right in your hand or on the desk or anywhere there is light. There are no batteries or cords to plug in – this globe will silently spin as long as there is even a small amount of light in the room. Check out the amazing Jupiter and Venus planet globes and all the other globes in our collection!