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 Stargazing Near Deep Creek Lake

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 ( 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.


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.


Please call the Planetarium at (301) 687-4270 for additional information.


The Frostburg 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 (301) 687-7955.

Frostburg State Univeristy Planetarium
Tawes Hall
Frostburg, Maryland 21532
Phone:(301) 687-4270

Sundays, 4 pm & 7 pm. lasting about 45 minutes, Jan- May & September - Dec.

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