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August: Brilliant Month For Star Gazers

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

We have already had the month's first supermoon, but there's another one coming up and some meteors (generally the best of the year) and the chance to see Saturn's rings.

Meteorite streaking through the dawn sky

A supermoon is when the moon reaches peak illumination at a time that coincides with its closest approach to the Earth in its orbit, arriving at just over 225,000 miles from the surface of our planet. This is called its perigee, as opposed to apogee (when the Moon is the farthest away at 252,000 miles).

The August 1st full moon is generally called the 'Sturgeon' Moon, after the prolific fish species of North America, though other Native American tribes use names related to grains, such as corn, rice, or harvest moon. It's the first of two full moons in August, with the second appearing on the 30th, called the Blue Moon.

The Blue Moon will be the biggest full moon of the year, while the Sturgeon Moon was the second-biggest.

Out of the northeastern sky on 12 and 13 August we can enjoy the peak of the annual Perseid Meteor Shower, thanks to Earth passing through a stream of debris left by the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. The Perseids are the most popular in the world, thanks to their abundance in the Northern Hemisphere, and the warm summer weather.

The really good news is that 'peak Perseids' coincides with a near-moonless night, meaning our ability to spot the blazing streaks in the night sky (assuming few clouds) will be particularly easy.

Lastly, there's a great chance to see Saturn on 30 August with the aid of binoculars or a telescope - if you want to see its rings.


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