The Naked-Eye Stargazer’s Guide to Summer 2022: One Supermoon and Two Meteor Showers, And Saturn at Its Best

Summer is the best time to stargaze. Even though the nights are shorter, it is when most people finally get to go on vacation. As the Sun sets, dusk falls, night’s window opens, revealing thousands of stars and this season, Saturn, an especially beautiful planet.

Here’s all you need to know about stargazing in summer, including the stars of summer and traditional seasonal constellations.

1. Saturn at opposition

When? August 14, 2022

Where is rising in the east

Tonight is the brightest and largest night for the ringed planet. Our planet lies between Saturn and Earth, an annual event that astronomers refer to as opposition. Saturn will rise in the east at sunset and set in west at dawn. It will never rise above mid-latitudes in the northern hemisphere, and it will stay low in the southern night skies. It can be seen easily with your naked eye, but you will need a small telescope to see its rings.

2. Moon, Mars, and the Pleiades

August 19, 2022

Where is the southern night sky?

Today marks the Last Quarter Moon phase. This is when the natural satellite rises at midnight. It will open the door to 10 nights of mostly dark skies, ideal for stargazing or astrophotography. The nights are getting longer and the Milky Way with its bright galactic centre can be seen just after darkness falls in the southern skies. The reason you should stay up until midnight to watch the moonrise, however, is that it will be 2.5deg away from Mars and very close to the Pleiades cluster of stars.

3. Venus and the crescent Moon

July 26, 2022

Where is east-northeastern Sky

The most stunning sight in the night sky this week is a beautiful combination of Venus, the brightest planet, and a delicate 5%-lit crescent moon. Before sunrise, look low in the east-northeast.

Each evening, you can look for the waxing crescent moon. It will be brighter each night.

4. The Teapot

All summer

Where is the southeastern nightsky?

The huge summer constellation of Sagittarius, “the Archer”, is located across the Milky Way’s densest star fields. It also lies over the galaxy’s centre, so if you look in the direction Sagittarius, you will be looking at the galactic center point. It’s not the archer’s shape, which is quite difficult to see, but a smaller form (stargazers call this an starrism), called the “Teapot” (shown right of center). Look south.

5. A parade of planets

July 17, 2022

Where is the southern night sky?

You can stay up late, or get up before sunrise, and you will see the bright planets Venus and Mars in the southern sky. Between Saturn and Jupiter will be an 82%-lit, waning gibbous Moon.

6. Southern Delta-Aquarid Meteor Shower

July 30, 2022

Where: all-sky

The peak of the Southern Delta Aquarid meteor shower will occur just before midnight tonight, and through the early hours tomorrow morning under dark moonless skies. The waxing crescent Moon will only be 3% lit and will set shortly after the Sun. Keep your eyes open (no telescope or binoculars necessary) for the 20 “shooting stars” that appear every hour. You can locate them by looking at the dark sky, but the further south you go the more meteors will be visible.

7. Perseid meteor shower

When? August 13, 2022

Where is all the sky

Strong moonlight can ruin the Perseid meteor shower which is a highlight on the annual stargazing calendar. Its 100-plus “shooting stars per hour” will be difficult to see due to the just-past full Moon. However, if you are out stargazing before midnight tonight or into the early morning tomorrow morning, you might see some bright bolides.

8. Evening-shining clouds

Twilight in June and July

Where is the northern sky

They are most visible in northern twilight skies between June and July at latitudes between 50deg to 70deg north or south of the Equator. These delicate, high-altitude clouds of icy powder form approximately 50 miles/80 kms up. These clouds are subtly lit by the Sun at these latitudes, which is always just below the horizon. You can best see them with your naked eyes or binoculars.

9. The planets and the crescent Moon

July 24, 2022

Where is the eastern night sky?

This morning, a 16%-lit, waning crescent moon will be visible between sunrise and sunset.

10. ‘Super Buck Moon’, ‘Sturgeon Moon’ and ‘Harvest Moon’

July 13, August 12, andSeptember 10, , 2022

Where is Rising in the East at Dusk

You can check the exact times of sunrise and sunset for your location, and then climb up to a high place with a clear view of the eastern sky. Just after sunset on July 13, you will see the rising of one of the most spectacular full Moons in the year. However, August’s Sturgeon Moon and September’s Harvest Moon will still look amazing during their moonrise moments.

I wish you clear skies, and big eyes.

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