Mortal as I am, I know that I am born for a day. But when I follow at my pleasure the serried multitude of the stars in their circular course, my feet no longer touch the earth - Ptolemy
Quadruple Alignment with Added Bonuses
I read that the best alignment of the year was going to occur on 15 July at 4am local time. As I would normally be clouded out for such a rare event, I was thrilled to know I would be on a cruise ship on the way back to Spain on that date, so I set my alarm accordingly. A fellow passenger joined me as he had heard me talking about the upcoming quadruple alignment earlier. From the top deck we watched as Jupiter, the old crescent moon, Aldebaran and Venus lined up in my own 'star sign' of Taurus, and marvelled at how they made the ocean sparkle. Then we commandeered a couple of sun loungers, re-christened them star loungers, and awaited some early Perseids. I was rewarded with 3, my companion scored 2 but then he asked me what a certain moving object was. I checked with my ×70 binoculars and it was the ISS. As it was his first time he was understandably thrilled! After seeing the multitude of stars in the arm of the Milky Way through my borrowed binoculars, no doubt he will soon be upgrading his own ×25s.
August Diary Dates
This month there are two full moons. This is a rare event as the lunar cycle is 29.5 days long, so there's usually only one full moon per calendar month, 12 a year. The 2nd full moon of the same month means it's a 'Blue Moon' according to folklore, although some astronomers insist the explanation of two full moons in one month dubs the second a 'Blue Moon' is a mistake perpetuated through common usage. Blue Moons don't happen every year, for example there was no Blue Moon in the year 2011 and there won't be any in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017. The year 2018 will be very special; there will be two consecutive blue moons, in January and March! Of course the Moon doesn't really turn blue, but it is possible to see a blue-tinged moon – however – you'd need specialist equipment. Or, as if you need a reminder, just browse the APOD archive for treasures such as this blue moon.
- 01: Full Moon
- 02: Jupiter passes 5° north of Aldebaran
- 03: Moon passes 6° north of Neptune
- 06: Moon passes 5° north of Uranus
- 11: Moon passes 0.1° south of Jupiter
- 11/12: Perseid meteor shower peak
- 12: Moon passes 1.9° north of Spica (alpha Virginis)
- 17: New Moon
- 17: Mars passes 3° south of Saturn
- 21: Moon passes 1° south of Spica
- 21: Moon passes 5° south of Saturn
- 22: Moon passes 2° south of Mars
- 31: Moon passes 6° north of Neptune
- 31: 2nd Full Moon of the month: some would call it a 'Blue Moon'
Chat about your celestial observances at the H2G2 Astronomy Society. Comment on anything in this edition of Babe Among the Stars by starting a new conversation below.