Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

110,487 subscribers and counting ...

Tonight

Everything you need to know: Perseid meteor shower

View larger. | Meteor seen at Acadia National Park during the 2012 Perseid meteor shower.  Photo from EarthSky Facebook friend Jack Fusco Photography.  See more from Jack here.

View larger. | Meteor seen at Acadia National Park during the 2012 Perseid meteor shower. Photo from EarthSky Facebook friend Jack Fusco Photography. See more from Jack here.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the annual August Perseid meteor shower probably ranks as the all-time favorite meteor shower of the year. No matter where you live worldwide, the 2014 Perseid meteor shower will probably peak on the mornings of August 11, 12 and 13. Unfortunately, in 2014, full moon comes on August 10. And not just any full moon, but the closest supermoon of this year. Thus, on the Perseids’ peak mornings, a big and bright waning gibbous moon will obscure all but the brightest meteors. But all is not lost! It just means you need to start observing before the shower’s peak this year. Follow the links inside to learn more.

Everything you need to know: Delta Aquarid meteor shower

Comet_holmes_and_meteor

The weekend of July 25-27, 2014 – and the nights after that until the moon interferes – are great for going to a dark country location to watch the long, rambling Delta Aquarid meteor shower. The shower can be seen across the entire Earth, and sky watchers in the Southern Hemisphere and northern tropics have an especially good view. The shower is officially active from about July 12 to August 23 each year. It overlaps with the more famous Perseid meteor shower in August, and those who observe the Perseids are sure to see Delta Aquarid meteors flying on the same nights. Follow the links inside to learn more.

Old moon and Mercury sit low in the dawn on July 25

2014-july-24-venus-mercury-moon-night-sky-chart

It will be a challenge to catch the slim waning crescent moon near planet Mercury in the glow of dawn on Friday morning, July 25, 2014. Look east. You’ll see the dazzling planet Venus, with the moon below. Quite close to the sunrise point the horizon, about an hour or so before sunrise, you’ll find Mercury – surprisingly bright for being so low in the sky.

Spectacular! Moon and Venus before dawn July 24

2014-july-23-venus-mercury-moon-night-sky-chart

Get up an hour or more before sunrise Thursday (July 24, 2014) to view a beautiful morning tableau. The waning crescent moon and planet Venus – second-brightest and third-brightest heavenly bodies, respectively, after the sun – will be together in the eastern morning twilight. The darkened portion of the crescent moon might be shining dimly in earthshine.

Longest lunar month of 2014 starts on August 25

Simulated view of the cycle of the moon's phases from new moon to new moon. This cycle is known as the lunar month. From the years 1760 to 2200, the longest lunar month was 29 days 19 hours and 58 minutes and the shortest 29 days 6 hours and 34 minutes.

Simulated view of the moon’s phases. The period of time from new moon to new moon is known as the lunar month, lunation or synodic month. From the years 1760 to 2200, the longest lunar month spans 29 days 19 hours and 58 minutes (Dec. 9, 1787 to Jan. 8, 1778) while the shortest lasts for 29 days 6 hours and 34 minutes (June 12 to July 12, 1885).

The longest lunar month of the year begins with the new moon of August 25, 2014, and ends with the new moon of September 24, 2014. This lunar month – the period of time between successive new moons – lasts for 29 days 16 hours and 1 minute. That’s 3 hours and 17 minutes longer than the mean lunar month of 29 days 12 hours and 44 minutes.

Keep watching east before dawn as moon sweeps past planets

On Wednesday morning, July 23, the moon is between the star Aldebaran and the planet Venus.  Look east before dawn.

On Tuesday morning, July 22, the moon is near the star Aldebaran. On Wednesday morning, July 23, the moon is between Aldebaran and the planet Venus. Look east before dawn.

If you’re an early riser, you might know that the old moon has been back in the east before dawn this week. What to expect in the coming mornings, inside.

Saturn stationary – moon near Aldebaran – on July 21-22

On the morning of July 22, 2014, you'll find the moon in the predawn sky, right next to the red star Aldebaran.

Before dawn on July 22, 2014, you’ll find the moon in east, near the red star Aldebaran.

At evening, Saturn shines in front of Libra, close to star Zubenelgenubi. It is stationary on this night, unmoving with respect to the stars. Meanwhile, set your alarm for the coming mornings. The moon before dawn is strikingly near star Aldebaran on Tuesday, moving toward planets Venus and Mercury in the coming mornings.

Moon, star cluster, bright star beautiful before dawn July 21

2014-july-20-aldebaran-pleiades-moon-night-sky-chart

Put your coffee pot on a timer and set your alarm for a couple of hours before sunrise on July 21. You’ll want to get up early to see the waning crescent moon, Pleiades star cluster and the red star Aldebaran adorning the early morning sky. Look east before dawn. If you get up too late, you’ll still enjoy seeing the brightest star-like object in all the heavens: the planet Venus.

Venus and Mercury before sunrise in the hottest part of summer

The horns of the waning crescent moon point away from Venus and Mercury, whereas the bow of the moon points toward Venus and Mercury.

You can enjoy Venus and Mercury any morning around now, but beginning around Sunday morning, July 20, 2014, you’ll find the moon near the planets. The horns of this waning crescent moon point away from Venus and Mercury, while the bow of the moon points toward them.

If you’re up early, enjoying the relative coolness of the predawn and dawn hours on these July 2014 mornings, be sure to look east before sunrise to catch the planets Venus and Mercury. They’ll be low in your eastern predawn sky some 75 to 60 minutes before the sun comes up. Venus, the brightest starlike point of light in all the heavens, outshines Mercury by leaps and bounds. But Mercury is still plenty bright, shining on par with the sky’s brightest stars. Start with the waning crescent moon and draw an imaginary line through dazzling Venus, to locate Mercury near the horizon.

Summer Triangle: Deneb and Cygnus the Swan

Summer Triangle captured on July 9, 2012 – by EarthSky Facebook friend Annie Lewis in Madrid, Spain. Thanks, Annie.

Tonight’s chart has you looking eastward at the famous Summer Triangle. Deneb is the northernmost star in the Summer Triangle. Its constellation is Cygnus the Swan. In a dark country sky, you can see that Cygnus is flying along the starlit trail of the summer Milky Way.