This month the universe offers us a solar eclipse, a meteor shower, the swirling Milky Way and beyond.
The Moon will create quite a show on Monday, August 21 with a solar eclipse, passing between the earth and the sun and blocking our view of the sun. A small part of the US will experience a total solar eclipse, while in our area, we will still see an impressive 85 percent blockage. According to the University of Toledo Ritter Planetarium and Brooks Observatory staff, the eclipse begins about 1:02pm with the maximum sun coverage at 2:27pm. Then, as the moon slowly moves away, the sun will be fully visible again by 3:50pm.
Tom Tinta of the Toledo Astronomical Association encourages everyone “to take the time to watch the progression of this phenomenon as solar eclipses we actually get to view occur so very few times in our lifetimes.” Toledoans will see a total solar eclipse in our area in 2024!
A free public gathering for the eclipse viewing will take place at UT on the south lawn between the Ritter Planetarium and McMaster Hall 12:30-4pm. Visitors will be able to enjoy the view using special filtering telescopes and can purchase solar eclipse glasses ($2).
Visit utoledo.edu/nsm/rpbo/ for a campus map, and click on Great American Eclipse for activities, maps and more. Roy Montgomery of the Toledo Astronomical Association cautions those taking photos to use a special filter rated for sun viewing over the lens of your camera or phone.
Join the Toledo Astronomical Association for one of its summer and fall night viewings of the universe. Prepare to feel like you are among the stars as this group of self-proclaimed star geeks share their passion for space at a public viewing at Beaver Creek Preserve (23028 Long Judson Rd in Grand Rapids, woodcountyparkdistrict.org) at 8pm August 26 (weather permitting).
Beaver Creek Preserve, with less light pollution and a larger telescope, is a great area to see the finer details of the Milky Way, several different types of star clusters and deep space. For additional dates and locations for viewings and monthly presentations visit toledoastronomy.org.
Settle into the darkness and look upward to catch the remaining beauty of the Perseid meteor shower, considered the Northern Hemisphere’s brightest and best of the year. Although the peak of the shower has passed, you will still be able to see 10 to 20 shooting stars per hour now through Thursday, August 24.
Tinta recommends remaining patient until your eyes adjust to the darkness and relaxing your gaze so you can catch meteors in your peripheral vision as well. With the meteors’ visible long streaming tails of light lingering in the night sky, this shower really is a wondrous sight to behold. Roy Montgomery says also visible without a telescope this month will be Jupiter the first and brightest light in the west and Saturn after 9:30pm in the southern sky.