Space Weather – July
August :August 2021 marks the last month of winter in Australia as we head towards spring and warmer weather. It also has a number of special events for keen planet watchers. The two largest planets in the Solar System come into opposition. For Saturn it’s the 2nd of August and for Jupiter it’s the 19th of August. Opposition is when the Earth and a planet are opposite each other on the same side of the Sun. It’s the time of the year when a planet is closest as well and this means they’re at their most spectacular either with your eyes alone of through a telescope. It you miss the actual date of the opposition you don’t need to worry. Planets move slowly across the sky and will be an amazing site for weeks to come.
From gas giants to tiny rocky planets – Mars and Mercury appear close together from the 17th to the 21st August They will look like two stars next to each other very low in the west from around 5.30pm until they set shortly after. This will a tricky one to spot and you’ll need clear view in their direction.
The Perseids meteor show reaches it highest point on the 12th to 13th August. This will be low in the very northern part of the sky after midnight. As with all meteor showers, the number of meteors varies from “disappointing” to “oh, there’s one!”. A dark sky away from city light pollution will help.
Don’t forget several species of whales will be starting their migration back down the Australian coast to the rich feeding ground of the southern oceans. It’s the perfect time to spot these magnificent creatures
Hopefully everyone remains safe and healthy during the COVID lockdowns in many places across Australia.