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Skywatch: The Perseids peak this week!

The Perseid meteor shower peaks this week but sadly, the moon will not cooperate.
This April 3, 2017 image made available by NASA shows the planet Jupiter. (NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (GSFC) via AP, File)

As planets move through the backdrop of stars in our night sky, there are times when they move with the stars (prograde motion) and times when they move against it (retrograde motion).

Whenever a planet switches from prograde to retrograde (or vice versa), they’re said to be stationary. Jupiter will take this “pause” in the sky on Sunday at around noon.

Look for the Moon, Jupiter & Saturn

Look for Jupiter in the sky Sunday night. It’ll shine brightly in the southern sky near the constellation of Scorpius. Just to the left and below the largest planet in the solar system, you’ll find the moon and Saturn. Look in the evening over the next few nights.

The Perseids Peak

What is arguably the best meteor shower of the year peaks this week. The Perseid meteor shower is expected to peak early on Tuesday morning. It’s caused by the Comet Swift-Tuttle and during a good year, you can see around 100 meteors per hour, but this year, the moon won’t be cooperating.

It’ll be close to full on Tuesday morning, which means all but the brightest meteors will be washed out. If you can get to a dark place, far away from the city, you may get lucky and see 10-15 meteors per hour. Look in the northeast early on Tuesday for the best show.

Courtesy: NASA

If you’ve been missing the planet Venus recently, you won’t see it for a little while longer. That’s because the planet is very close to the sun in the sky as observed from Earth. The planet will be in something known as superior conjunction at around 2:00 a.m. Wednesday morning. This is when Earth, the Sun and Venus all line up and Venus will be on the far side of our star.

Venus will return to the evening sky next month.

The Full Sturgeon Moon

As mentioned earlier, the moon will not help the Perseid meteor shower this year. In fact, the Full Moon arrives on Thursday at 8:29 a.m. This month’s full moon is known as the Full Sturgeon Moon because the fish were easily caught in the month of August. It’s also known as the Full Grain Moon.

Look for a big, bright moon both Thursday morning and Thursday night. Happy hunting!