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Eye on the Sky: The Dreaded Blue Moon is Here!

Hello once again fellow astrophiles! Well, it’s the height of summer now, and the nights are so warm you could practically go stargazing in the nude. Now, I wouldn’t recommend it, what with all the mosquitos out buzzing around. One bite in the nether regions and you might jump out of your skin, and that would surely draw the bears in. But with all that warmth outside, you really don’t have any excuse not to be out under the stars, now do you? So, get out there!

With no cute little moonbeams to spoil the darkness, the viewing should be awesome!

 

Probably the most exciting thing going on this month is the Perseid meteor shower, and it promises to be a doozy. The great thing about this year’s shower is that it occurs near the new moon, so there will be a thin crescent moon, but it will have already gone down by the time the shower starts. With no cute little moonbeams to spoil the darkness, the viewing should be awesome!

And these pieces are traveling fast – about 200 times the speed of a jet airplane!

The meteors in this shower are caused by pieces of material left behind in space by the comet Swift-Tuttle. Each of these pieces is tiny, from the size of a grain of sand up to that of a tiny pebble. And these pieces are traveling fast – about 200 times the speed of a jet airplane! So, when they slam into the Earth it’s BAM, and we get a fabulous shooting star to enjoy. Whoever thought hypersonic death could be so beautiful.

One great thing about the Perseids is that you can find them streaking along all over the sky, so it really doesn’t matter where you look, although it is best to look toward the constellation Perseus in the northeastern sky to see the most meteors. The best time to look for them will be from 2am till dawn in the early morning of August 12th. The later you stay up the better they will get. But if the weather is bad or something else gets in the way that night, you can also expect to get good results on the nights before and after that too. Expect to see anywhere from 50 to 150 meteors per hour!

If you go around telling people you only do some dreaded chore once in a Blue Moon, then get ready to do it, because the dreaded event is upon us!

Also this month, TAKE NOTE: If you go around telling people you only do some dreaded chore once in a Blue Moon, then get ready to do it, because the dreaded event is upon us! That’s right, this month’s full Sturgeon Moon is going to be of the colorful blue variety.

Of course, we all know that Blue Moons aren’t actually blue in color, but many people don’t realize that the term ‘Blue Moon’ can actually refer to two different things – there are seasonal and monthly Blue Moons. Monthly Blue Moons occur when a month has two full moons, the Blue Moon being the latter one. This is the definition of Blue Moon most people are familiar with. But this month’s full moon is not of the monthly variety. Instead, it’s a seasonal Blue Moon, which is even more rare than the monthly kind, so you’d better be ramping those once in a Blue Moon activities into overdrive!

Seasonal Blue Moons happen when four full moons occur within one season instead of the usual three.

Seasonal Blue Moons happen when four full moons occur within one season instead of the usual three. But strangely enough, it’s the third full moon and not the fourth which is called the Blue Moon. Weird, huh? Astronomers are crazy.

Well, that about raps it up for this month, folks. Next month is going to be even more exciting – the Sun is going to blow up. Well, at least it is according to my dream. I reckon we’ll see what happens. You might want to buy some really good sunglasses just in case though.

– Barry Pyne, HashtagWV #134. August 2021. Contact the author at offthebeatenpathman@gmail.com

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