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Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks As Waning Moon Meets Venus: What To Watch For In The Night Sky This Week – Forbes



Each Monday I pick out the northern hemisphere’s celestial highlights (mid-northern latitudes) for the week ahead, but be sure to check my main feed for more in-depth articles on stargazing, astronomy and eclipses. 

What To Watch For In The Night Sky This Week: August 10-16, 2020

Are you ready to go “shooting star”-spotting? Active since July 17, the Perseid meteor shower can bring as many as 100 “shooting stars” per hour on its peak night. In 2020, that’s Tuesday, August 11 into Wednesday, August 12. 

That’s just the beginning of a great week for stargazing. As the week wears on it becomes one of the best weeks of the year to see the Milky Way in the run-up to August 19’s New Moon. From August 12 the Moon will be rising after midnight, giving you a few hours of dark skies just as the brightest part of our galaxy is arcing overhead. 

With two of summer’s celestial treats in the same week, and some great views of Venus and the Moon to boot, a sparkling seven days of stargazing awaits!

Tuesday, August 11, 2020: Perseid meteor shower peaks

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Easily the most popular meteor shower of the year in the northern hemisphere, tonight is one of the best nights of the year to see “shooting stars.” It’s caused by dust and debris left in Earth’s orbital path by Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, which last entered the Solar System in 1992 and is due back in July 2126. 

The Perseids can number as many as 100 per hour. Will you see that many? A rising Last Quarter Moon about midnight is going to bleach-out some of the brighter meteors, but there should still be plenty for patient eyes to spot. 

Be outside before midnight. As well as some early “earthgrazers”—long-lasting shooting stars close to the eastern and western horizons—if you’re in a dark place away from light pollution you may also see the Milky Way arcing overhead in the south. 

After midnight, to find shooting stars look at any part of the night sky, and keep looking! However, you’ll need clear skies; if it’s cloudy, you’re not going to see anything.

It’s also worth looking for Perseid meteors on Wednesday, August 12 into Thursday, August 13, and even the night after that. If there’s a clear sky this week, get outside and look up.

Wednesday, August 12 – Saturday, August 22: See the Milky Way

Did you manage to sneak a peak at our galaxy while out watching for Perseids?

The center of our galaxy looks spectacular in August, but the Milky Way is at its best when the Moon is down. That’s from tonight through August 19’s New Moon.

Look generally south, preferably while observing from somewhere away from light pollution and, crucially, somewhere where your view to the southern horizon isn’t going to have the glow from any town or city. 

Thursday, August 13, 2020: Venus as a ‘Morning Star’ and Aldebaran close to the Moon

If you enjoyed seeing Venus dominate as an “Evening Star” for the first half of 2020, now is the best time to appreciate how much it’s now dominating as a pre-dawn “Morning Star.”

Always the brightest object in the night sky aside from the Moon, Venus today reaches its greatest elongation west. 

That means it seems, from our point of view one Earth, to be furthest from the Sun in its current morning apparition, so it appears at its highest point in the pre-dawn night sky. Look above the eastern horizon about three hours before sunrise.

At 45.8° west of the Sun, it’s the highest in the night sky Venus will get during 2020. 

If you’re up early enough to see Venus, do have a look for bright star Aldebaran in the constellation of Taurus, which will be a mere 4° from a 34% illuminated Moon. 

Saturday, August 15, 2020: conjunction of a crescent Moon and Venus

This morning Venus will still be rising about three hours before the Sun, together with an 18%-lit crescent Moon (see above) that will seem closer to it the nearer it gets to sunrise.

Constellation of the week: Orion

Look to the east and, if you’re up earlier enough, you can also indulge in some good views of the winter constellations. 

Most notably you’ll see the famous cold weather constellation of Orion rising on its side. Its bright stars, ruddy Betelgeuse and true blue Rigel, should both be just about visible. Between them will the Belt; above will be the constellation of Taurus and bright red star Aldebaran.

Further proof that although the stars change with the seasons, if you get up early enough you can cheat the system! 

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes. 

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Bus-size asteroid to zoom by Earth, ducking below satellites – CTV News



An asteroid the size of a school bus is headed our way, but NASA says the space rock will zoom safely past Earth on Thursday.

The newly discovered asteroid will come within 13,000 miles (22,000 kilometres) of Earth, well below many of the communications satellites orbiting the planet, scientists said this week. The closest approach will occur Thursday morning over the southeastern Pacific Ocean.

Once it’s gone, the asteroid won’t be back to Earth’s neighbourhood until 2041.

Scientists estimate the asteroid is between 15 feet and 30 feet (4.5 metres to 9 metres). By asteroid standards, that’s considered puny. Asteroids of this size hit Earth’s atmosphere and burn up once every year or two, said Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. There could be as many as 100 million of these little asteroids out there.

The real threat are considerably bigger asteroids. The good news is that these are easier to spot much sooner than just a few days out.

Asteroid 2020 SW, as it is known, was discovered last Friday by the Catalina Sky Survey at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Launch date for Tom Cruise's space mission confirmed – Belleville Intelligencer



Tom Cruise attends the ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ Press Conference at The Ancestral Temple on August 29, 2018 in Beijing, .

Emmanuel Wong / (Credit too long, see caption)

Tom Cruise has been given a launch date for his mission to space.

The action man will become the first star to actually film in space while he’s onboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon trip to the International Space Station – and now he has a countdown to prepare for.

He’ll take off with astronauts and fellow wannabe spacemen and women in October 2021, according to the 2020-2023 ISS official manifest, obtained by TMZ.

The Mission: Impossible star will be joined in space by his Edge of Tomorrow director Doug Liman.

Tom will also be working with SpaceX boss Elon Musk and NASA experts on the ambitious movie, the title of which has not yet been announced.

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ISS forced to move to avoid collision with space junk – Sky News



Astronauts aboard the International Space Station had to carry out an “avoidance manoeuvre” to prevent it from being hit by space junk, NASA has said.

Its trajectory was changed to move it further away from the “unknown piece of space debris”, the US space agency wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.

The three crew members – two Russians and an American – relocated to their Soyuz spacecraft attached to the ISS during the operation, so they could evacuate if necessary.

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Experts expected the space junk to pass within “several kilometres” of the ISS, but decided to move it “out of an abundance of caution”.

Russian and US flight controllers worked together to adjust the station’s orbit in an operation which took minutes.

The crew were able to continue with their regular activities after the manoeuvre was complete.

NASA said the crew were not in danger at any time.

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“Maneuver Burn complete. The astronauts are coming out of safe haven,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said on Twitter.

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It is the third time this year the International Space Station (ISS) has had to manoeuvre to avoid space debris, he said.

He tweeted: “In the last 2 weeks, there have been 3 high concern potential conjunctions. Debris is getting worse!”

Astronomer Jonathon McDowell, at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, tweeted the unknown object was a part of a 2018 Japanese rocket which broke into 77 pieces last year.

The ISS is orbiting around 260 miles (420km) above the Earth, travelling at a speed of about 17,130mph (27,568km/h).

At this velocity, even a small object has the ability to cause serious damage to the space station.

NASA has said these kinds of manoeuvres occur on a regular basis, with 25 having occurred between 1999 and 2018.

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