Skywatch: Look for meteors and the Super Black Moon

The Delta Aquariids peak
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We mentioned the possibility of seeing some meteors late last week thanks to the Delta Aquariid meteor shower. This will peak early in the week early on Monday or Tuesday. Comet 96P Machholz is responsible for the shower.

On a good night you can see about 10 to 20 meteors per hour. The radiant will be in the southern sky in the wee hours of the morning. You’ll need a clear view of the sky far from city lights for the best viewing.

Courtesy: NASA

Mercury is transitioning from the evening to the morning sky in the coming weeks. At around 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday the planet will become “stationary”.

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Because planets move against the backdrop of the stars there are times when a planet moves with the apparent motion of the stars and times when it moves against it. When this switch happens the planet is said to be stationary. A

fter this “pause” Mercury will be found in the morning sky later this month.

The New Moon arrives Wednesday

The New Moon will occur at 11:12 p.m. on Wednesday night. This is good news if you want to look for meteors (there will still be some leftovers from the Delta Aquariids) as we’ll have less light pollution.

This is the second New Moon in July and can be called a Black Moon as a result. Look for it in the west on Thursday, August 1st, it sets at 9:32 p.m.

The Super Black Moon

The lunar perigee occurs at 3:11 a.m. on Friday morning. Because the moon has an elliptical orbit there are times when it’s closer to the Earth and farther away from it. When it is at its closest point in the orbit it’s at what’s known as perigee.

And because the perigee takes place so close to the New Moon we can call it a supermoon. In fact, we could call it a Super Black Moon.

Orion returns to the morning sky

We also get the chance to welcome back an old friend this month. The constellation of Orion is typically associated with the winter months. It’s now in the eastern sky, rising just before dawn.

In the coming months it’ll play a more prominent role in the night sky and you’ll be to see the three stars that famously make up Orion’s belt on a nightly basis (provided the clouds hold off). Happy hunting!