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The Sky this Month

MAS Sky this month

What's in the night sky this month ?

The 'fixed' stars will appear in the same locations year after year (note 1). Some astronomical events - such as meteor showers - also repeat from year to year (even if the 'peak' date of a meteor shower varies somewhat) whilst other astronomical objects, such as the planets and Comets, have orbital periods that don't follow Earth's annual cycle at all. So these pages focus on the main Constellations, whilst other events can be found on the Events page

Note 1. In fact, due to the precession of the Earths axis, positions of the Constellations don't repeat exactly from one year to the next. Fortunately, in the context of "What's in the sky this month ?", this 'slippage' (which is 1 degree every 71.6 years) can be ignored (it taking 25,772 years to complete one revolution). So, if this had been written down some 2,200 years ago, at the time when the 'Sun signs' were defined, everything would have 'shifted' by some 30 degrees (or one 'Zodiac' constellation) and these pages would make as much sense today as that Astrology nonsense :-)

Running the Stellarium scripts (.ssc)

Our monthly sky Stellarium 'scripts', {date}-WhatsOn.ssc, were designed to run with Stellarium V10.1 but should 'work' with almost any version. To run the scrip on your own computer, start by downloading the script = 'right click' the link and use 'Save link as'. Next drag the .ssc file to the to the '\scripts' sub-directory of the installed Stellarium program directory (i.e. C:\Program Files\Stellarium\scripts).

To run the script, launch Stellarium, open the 'Configuration' menu dialog and go to the 'Scripts' tab. A list of available scripts will be shown in the list box on the left side. You select a script by clicking on it as usual and details (about that script) will then be shown in the panel on the right side. To run the selected script, click the 'run script' button (the icon that looks like a DVD player 'Play' button). For more Stellarium scripts, visit the Stellarium.org/wiki page

Note, before running a script it's a 'good idea' to disable the on-screen 'information' (Configuration, Information tab, set 'Selected Object information' = 'none')

(-) 08 August

Meteors this month Photo: ../Sky_this_month/photos/Aug-perseid-meteor-shower.jpgPhoto: ../Sky_this_month/photos/Aug-perseid-map.jpgThe Perseids, the most numerous and brightest meteor shower each year, peaking around August 9-13 when you can see 60 to a 100 meteors an hour from a dark place.

The Perseids are the space debris left over from comet Swift-Tuttle and are named after the constellation Perseus because the "radiant" (the direction from which the shower seems to come) from lies in the constellation of Perseus.

Photo: ../Sky_this_month/photos/Aug-perseids-fireball.jpgIn 2014, whilst the peak is predicted to be from the 10th onward, the full 'supermoon' (closest approach between Earth and Moon - the next such close encounter will be September 28, 2015) is on August 10 and the bright moonlight will 'wash out' the fainter tracks of the meteors.

Fortunately, the Perseid shower starts from about the 3rd of Aug and delivers the highest number of bright meteors each year so you have a good chance of seeing something during the week before the full moon.

Chart, above right, credit NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office Photo: ../Sky_this_month/photos/August.jpgThe sky (looking South) this month.

(click the sky map, right, for a larger view)

This note last modified: 25th Nov 2016 10:30.


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