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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.

Meteor seen at Acadia National Park during the 2012 Perseid shower. Photo from EarthSky Facebook friend Jack Fusco Photography.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the annual August Perseid meteor shower probably ranks as the all-time favorite meteor shower of the year. This major shower takes place during the lazy, hazy days of summer, when many families are on vacation. And what could be more luxurious than taking a siesta in the heat of the day and watching this summertime classic in the relative coolness of night? No matter where you live worldwide, the 2015 Perseid meteor shower will probably peak on the mornings of August 11, 12 and 13. Follow the links inside to learn more.

August 2015 guide to the five visible planets

Skywatcher, by Predrag Agatonovic.

Skywatcher, by Predrag Agatonovic.

Saturn rules this month! And that’s very unusual, because Saturn is the faintest and least noticeable of the bright planets. So why is Saturn top dog in August, 2015? Only because Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter – the other planets visible to the eye alone – all are hiding in the glare of evening or morning twilight throughout this month. Maybe they’re just not wanting to be upstaged by this August’s awesome Perseid meteor shower. Follow the links inside to learn more about August planets.

Saturn stationary in Libra on August 2

With no moon to obscure the early evening hours, use Saturn to find the constellation Libra and the star Antares to locate the constellation Scorpius. The green line depicts the ecliptic - Earth's orbital plane projected outward onto the constellations of the Zodiac.

Saturn in August, 2015. The green line depicts the ecliptic, or path of the sun, moon and planets on our sky’s dome.

A planet’s “stationary point” doesn’t mean it stops moving. In space, nothing ever stops moving. Instead, the “stationary point” is an Earth-centered illusion.

Saturn dominates August 2015 night sky

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Saturn is the least noticeable of the bright planets. But not this month. With Jupiter, Venus, Mercury and Mars near the sun, Saturn rules in August, 2015.

How often do we have a Blue Moon in July?

Elizabeth Crehan in New Canaan, Connecticut got this shot on the morning of August 1, 2015.  She said she just added

Elizabeth Crehan in New Canaan, Connecticut got this shot on the morning of August 1, 2015. She said she just added “a nice quiet blue hue!”

How often do we have a Blue Moon in July? For the answer, you have to look to a concept from astronomy and calendar studies, at what’s called the Metonic cycle.

Blue Moon – second July full moon – on July 31

Patrick Casaert – whose community on Facebook is called La Lune The Moon – used a blue filter to capture this shot of the moon on July 27, 2015.

Patrick Casaert used a blue filter to capture this shot of the moon on July 27, 2015.

Blue Moon coming! As seen in the photo above by Patrick Casaert, the moon has been waxing to full this week. Patrick used a blue filter to create his moon photo, and if you see the moon in tonight’s sky, you’ll see it’s nearly full … but not at all blue in color. Yet, as the second full moon for the month of July, many will call it a Blue Moon.

Orion the Hunter: Ghost of summer dawn

In late July and early August, watch for the three medium-bright

In late July and early August, watch for the three medium-bright “Belt” stars of Orion the Hunter to ascend over your eastern horizon shortly before dawn.

Orion the Hunter appears each Northern Hemisphere winter as a mighty constellation arcing across the south during the evening hours. But, before dawn in late July and early August, you can spot Orion in the east. Thus Orion has been called “the ghost of the shimmering summer dawn.” The Hunter rises on his side, with his three Belt stars – Mintaka, Alnitak and Alnilam – pointing straight up.

Delta Aquarid meteors peaking in moonlight

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The Great Square of Pegasus can point you to the constellation Aquarius and to the radiant point of the Delta Aquarid meteor shower.

In a dark, moonless night sky in late July and early August, you can see up to 15 to 20 Delta Aquarid meteors per hour. In 2015, the moon is in the way. Get ready, though. The Delta Aquarids will still be flying at the peak of this year’s Perseid meteor shower, which will be mostly moon-free!

Star of the week: The Double Double star

Via daviddarling.info

Via daviddarling.info

What’s a Double Double star? Ordinary binoculars show you Epsilon Lyrae as two stars in one. But look more closely. A telescope reveals that each of the two stars in the Epsilon Lyrae system is, in itself, a double star. That’s why Epsilon Lyrae is famous for being the Double Double star, a single point of light to the eye that’s really four stars in one. One stellar pair circles around the other stellar pair in an intricate gravitational dance.

Moon near Scorpion’s stinger on July 27

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The moon is to the north of the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion tonight. You can pick out two stars near the moon – in the Tail of the Scorpion – are called Shaula and Lesath. Together, these two represent the Scorpion’s Stinger. Shaula is some 350 light-years away and Lesath is about 500 light-years away