The Night Skies – August 2023

He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name (Psalm 147:4)

As we move through late summer and towards early autumn, the night sky is getting quite busy!  This month sees the Perseid meteor shower (covered in last month’s post) Saturn at its closest point to Earth and an actual “Blue Moon” (the Messenger does not accept liability for any unusual events occurring because of this)!

• Keep an eye to the South-East not long after dark and you’re likely to spot Saturn rising. For the night owls amongst us it is best spotted high in the Southern sky during the small hours.  Given its relative proximity to Earth it should appear very bright in the sky.  If you’re struggling to tell if the object you are looking at is a star or planet, watch for the “twinkle” – if the object is twinkling then it is a star, if it is steady then it is a planet.

• When a full Moon occurs twice in a calendar month it is known as a Blue Moon. The Moon’s orbit around the Earth isn’t perfectly circular which means it gets closer or further away depending on the point it is at on its route.  This month the Moon is nearly at its closest point, which means we will be treated to a Blue Super Moon, with it appearing larger and brighter in the sky.  Sadly the Moon is unlikely to appear blue, however its colour can be impacted by atmospheric events.

• Finally, for those with the darkest skies you may be lucky enough to glimpse our own galaxy directly overhead, the Milky Way. The Milky Way appears as a stream of light in the sky (its pale appearance the reason for its name) and is actually many millions of stars composing another arm of our galaxy that are simply too far away to distinguish individually.

Until next time, I hope you enjoy the sights the skies of our Benefice have to offer.


The feature image for this post is “Blue Super Moon -Flickr-gailhampshire”, Wikicommons (P.D.)

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