It’s hard to top July’s exoplanet excitement, but August will try. Not only is August the last month to catch one of 2022’s three supermoons, it’s also the beginning of several lunar missions — with one of the year’s best meteor showers mixed in. By Stephanie Vermillion
Some of this month’s night-sky events, such as Saturn’s moment in the limelight, will be improved with stargazing gear, such as a telescope or binoculars. Others, like the Perseids meteor shower, can be witnessed with the naked eye. (As always, finding a dark-sky place will increase your shooting-star odds.)
Ready to fill your calendar with August’s top astro happenings? Here are five events not to miss.
August 2: Launch of South Korea’s First Moon Mission
On the evening of August 2, South Korea plans to embark on a major space milestone: It will launch the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter, nicknamed Danuri, via a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Danuri marks the country’s first expedition to the moon. The vessel’s mission: circle the moon for at least one year, measuring magnetic force atop the moon’s surface while analysing lunar resources, such as water ice, uranium, and silicon, according to Space.com, which notes streaming details are yet to be launched. Danuri will launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and experts say Danuri will reach lunar orbit by mid-December 2022.
August 11: Final Supermoon of 2022
August 11 will see the last of 2022’s three supermoons. This month’s full moon, nicknamed the “sturgeon moon” by Native Americans due to the sturgeon fish caught around this time of year, will appear a touch larger and brighter than the typical full moon. It reaches its brightest point near sunset in the northern hemisphere, according to Space.com.
August 11 to 12: Perseids Meteor Shower Peak
Astro enthusiasts across the northern hemisphere wait all year for the annual Perseids Meteor Shower — and for good reason. According to NASA, Perseids generates between 50 to 100 meteors per hour at the peak, which falls from the night of August 11 into the morning of August 12 this year, according to The American Meteor Society. That’s the good news. The not-so-good? This year’s meteor shower coincides with the full moon; the moon’s bright glow will wash out some of the shooting stars. All is not lost according to SeaSky.org, which notes it’s still worth heading out, because Perseids is one of the year’s brightest meteor showers, and it could prove to be a “decent show.”
August 14: Saturn Reaches Opposition
Admire Saturn in a rare light on August 14 as the ringed planet reaches opposition — a time when it’s larger and brighter than usual. According to Sky At Night Magazine, opposition happens when Earth sits smack dab between a planet and the sun (take the moon, which reaches opposition during each full phase). Saturn’s opposition occurs about once per year. You can admire Saturn with a telescope or, at the very least, binoculars, starting at twilight in the southeast sky on August 14.
August 29: Potential Artemis 1 Rocket Launch
NASA could launch its next major lunar mission, Artemis 1, as soon as August 29. (If delayed, the launch will take place in early September.) Artemis 1 is the first part of NASA’s plan to get more astronauts to the moon through the Artemis program. This mission, centred on the Orion spacecraft’s un-crewed test flight around the moon, will use the new Space Launch System Rocket, which NASA says will be the most powerful rocket in the world come launch time. If the mission goes well, NASA will launch the Artemis 2 mission by 2024, sending astronauts to the moon for the first time in seven decades. Stay up to date on the latest Artemis 1 launch news from NASA.
This story first appeared on www.travelandleisure.com
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