Magazine article Natural History

Skylog

Magazine article Natural History

Skylog

Article excerpt

The "star" of the summer is Jupiter, shining bright within Sagittarius, the Archer-above and to the left of the constellation's most prominent star pattern, popularly known as the Teapot. In early July, when Jupiter swings into opposition (that is, when it's on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun), the planet rises at sunset, ascends highest in the south around 1 A.M. local daylight time, and sets at sunrise. Later in July and throughout August, it will be prominent in the southeast as dusk fades and will remain visible for most of the night.

The first total solar eclipse in nearly two and a half years takes place the morning of August 1. The Moon's umbra, or full shadow, will first fall north of the Arctic Circle in Canada, where Earthlings positioned to get the earliest view of totality will see the Sun eclipsed as it rises. The umbra will then sweep northeastward, giving a glancing blow to northern Greenland, before heading southeast out of the Arctic Circle, through Siberia and western Mongolia and into China. Viewers about 400 miles southwest of Beijing will get the last glimpses of the total eclipse as the Sun sets. Many eclipse watchers are expected to gather at Novosibirsk, the largest city in Siberia. Weather permitting, they will witness a total eclipse lasting two minutes twenty seconds. Many regions will experience a partial eclipse.

The Perseid meteor shower, which peaks during the night of August 11-12, will probably offer the best meteor spectacle in 2008, since the December Geminids will be washed out by a full Moon. …

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