Eye on the Sky

There are a few good reasons to do a little stargazing in the next couple of weeks. If you were awake Wednesday morning before the sun came out, you couldn’t miss the full moon.  

This full moon is best known as the Sturgeon Moon, named by the Native American Tribes who fished the Great Lakes.  Some also call it the Wyrt, Wort, Barley, Corn or Red Moon.

There is also a partial eclipse Wednesday night but you won't see it.  It will be too faint to be visible by the human eye over North America.  This type of "invisible eclipse" is known as "penumbral". 

A slightly more visible eclipse will take place on the last night of the year, December 31, but you'll need to be on the other side of the world to enjoy it.  The next good eclipse for us, a total Lunar Eclipse, will take place December 20, 2010.

The timing of this full moon is bad if you happen to be looking for falling or shooting stars on which to make a wish.  We're in the midst of, what many consider to be the best of the annual meteor storms, the Perseid Meteor Shower. It begins each year around the middle of July and will peak next week on August 12 and 13. 

While the moon will no longer be bright and full it will still be light enough in its final quarter-phase to wash out good meteor watching. Still, scientists say you might get an hour of pretty good sightings around 2 a.m. Wednesday morning and again at 1 a.m. Thursday.

As always, our mountains or deserts provide the best chance of seeing the meteors as they burn up in our atmosphere.  It's predicted you could see as many as 30-50 per hour under ideal conditions.

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