Sky at Night
Find out what to see in the night sky this month. What meteor showers are active now? Are there any comets to see? When is the next planetary conjunction?, Is there a solar or lunar eclipse soon?
Skywatchers will be treated to the longest "blood moon" eclipse of the 21st Century on Friday. As it rises Earth's natural satellite will turn a striking shade of red or ruddy brown with the "totality" period lasting for one hour, 43 minutes.
The Ursids are often neglected due to the fact it peaks just before Christmas and the rates are much less than the Geminds, which peaks just a week before the Ursids. Observers will normally see 5-10 Ursids per hour during the late morning hours on the date of maximum activity.
The Orionid Meteor Shower is a medium strength shower that can reach high strength activity. In a normal year the Orionids produce 20-25 shower members at maximum. In exceptional years, such as 2006-2009, the peak rates were on par with the Perseids (50-75 per hour).
The Perseids meteor shower is the most popular meteor shower as they peak on warm August nights as seen from the northern hemisphere. The Perseids are active from July 13 to August 26, reaching a strong maximum on August 11 - 13, depending on the year. Normal rates seen from rural locations range from 50-75 meteors per hour at maximum.
The Alpha Capricornids are active from July 11 through August with a "plateau-like" maximum centered on July 29. This shower is not very strong and rarely produces in excess of five shower members per hour. What is notable about this shower is the number of bright fireballs produced during its activity period.