Light pollution in urban areas has made stargazing very challenging.
This nighttime satellite photo says it all. Fortunately, the
mountainous rural surroundings of Deep Creek Lake make it
an ideal place for educational and romantic stargazing. This
section of our web site will provide you with an overview
of the easiest objects to find in the night sky and a printable
sky chart to take outdoors.
Dr. Doyle (email@example.com) writes the following column
for beginners who would like to know what highlights to look
for in this month's night sky. To ask questions or get a free
brochure, call the FSU Planetarium at 301-687-4270 and press
4. Doyle also hosts "SkyWatch," a brief program
on the events in the sky that airs on weekday evenings just
before 9 p.m. on WFWM on 91.9 FM in western Garrett County
and at 96.3 FM in the Oakland area.
Mid-August will feature the Perseid meteor shower. Meteor
showers occur when the Earth crosses a comet's orbit,
laden with debris. The debris collides with the Earth
and is incinerated in the upper atmosphere, producing
meteors. The Perseid shower is so named because the
meteors of this shower can be traced back to the star
group Perseus. The shower is best seen in the early
morning hours of Aug. 13. Centuries ago, the Perseids
took place on Aug. 12, the feast day of St. Lawrence.
The meteors were then known as the tears of St. Lawrence.
The star group Perseus lies below the small zigzag pattern
of stars known as Cassiopeia. As the night hours pass,
Perseus ascends higher into the northern sky, allowing
you to see more meteors. The total absence of the moon
on this night might result in a better-than-average
display. Meteors may be seen in all four compass directions,
appearing to streak from a point (radiant) near the
head of Perseus. The best way to observe meteors will
be from a lounge chair where you look upward, seeing
as large a part of the sky as possible. Typically, several
meteors a minute may be seen. The next good meteor shower
this year will be in mid-December, when meteors will
streak out of the star group Gemini.
In early August, the nearly full moon
appears low in the southeastern evening sky. In the
early morning hours of Aug. 5 the moon appears half-full
with its bowed side facing east (the direction of the
sun). On Aug. 7, the crescent moon appears near the
planet Mars in the southern dawn sky. In mid-August,
the evening moon reappears as a slender crescent in
the southwestern dusk. The moon will appear near the
bright star Spica on Aug. 17, half-full near the Scorpion's
claws on Aug. 20 and onto full on Aug. 27 in Aquarius.
But at dawn on Aug. 28, the moon will pass through the
Earth's shadow; this will be our second lunar eclipse
of 2007. Around 4:50 a.m., the moon will begin to enter
the deepest part of the Earth's shadow. By 5:52 a.m.,
the moon will be completely in the Earth's shadow. At
6:37 a.m., the moon will be darkest. But by then the
eastern horizon will be lit up with the coming sunrise.
SOLAR SYSTEM IN AUGUST
The planets Venus and Saturn are now at too small an
angle from the sun to be seen. In mid-August, both planets
nearly line up with the sun. This leaves Jupiter as
the only bright planet in the evening sky. Jupiter appears
low in the south above the bright pinkish star Antares.
If you look at Jupiter, you will see it shining with
a steady light, unlike the twinkling of Antares and
all the other night stars. Jupiter and Antares will
be visited by the moon on Aug. 21, when our satellite
passes by. As the evening hours pass, both Jupiter and
Antares glide lower as they move into the Southwest.
STARS IN AUGUST
Please call the
Planetarium at (301) 687-4270 for additional information.
State University Planetarium offers public planetarium
prgrams monthly. The Planetarium is in Tawes Hall 302.
Call (301) 687-4270 for road
directions and more information.
For a free copy of our Planetarium brochure,
call the Frostburg State Planetarium at (301) 687-4270,
press 4 and leave your name and mailing address.
FSU is committed to making all of its
programs, services and activities accessible to persons
with disabilities. To request accommodations through
the ADA Compliance Office, call (301) 687-4102, TDD