Meteor showers and a star show clip visible in NYC this month

The evenings of this month are a perfect time to look up.

Dominating the night sky is the Summer Triangle, which consists of three bright stars from three different constellations: Altair from Aquila, the Eagle, Deneb from Cygnus the Swan, and Vega from Lyra. Stargazers will also be able to see planets, star clusters and two meteor showers – all with the naked eye. Most can be seen within five blocks, in a park, cemetery or other dark space.

Jackie Faherty, an astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History, called the Summer Triangle “the main thing in the sky in July.”

Another summer constellation, Scorpio, is not hard to find. It is shaped like a scorpion and at the heart of the constellation is an orange-red supergiant star called Antares.

Spica, a very bright blue star in the sky, is in the constellation Virgo. This star will perform some kind of magic trick on July 13 at around 11:25 p.m. That evening, astronomy buffs can watch the rim of the moon draw closer and closer to Spica, until the star disappears behind its lunar neighbor.

“Even in New York City, you can see Spica,” Faherty said. “Some of the joy is watching the star turn as the moon goes by.”

The Pleiades star cluster, meaning seven sisters, contains over a thousand stars loosely bound by gravity. The group is also called Subaru (hence the logo of the car company).

Often mistaken for stars, three planets are visible to the naked eye – Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. They are not difficult to find in dissonance, because they are bright, but not shimmering.

At the beginning of the month, Saturn will rise just before midnight, but by the end it will be visible as early as 10 p.m. For night owls, Mars and Jupiter join Saturn in the sky after 1 a.m.

“You can have Mars, Jupiter and Saturn all together,” Faherty said. “They are bright and beautiful planets.”

There are two more meteor showers this month. Southern Delta Aquariids begins July 18th and runs through August 21st. On July 29-30, the shower peaks at 20 meteors per hour at a speed of 25 miles per second. Shooting stars will appear in the southern part of the sky, originating in the constellation of Aquarius.

The Southern Delta Waters are space debris left over from comet 96P/Machholz, discovered in 1986. The 4-mile-wide comet has a short five-year orbit around the sun.

The second meteor shower of the month is the Perseids, which begins on July 14 and ends on September 1. At its peak on August 11-12, up to 100 meteors per hour stream across the sky at a speed of 37 miles per second. .

The meteor shower is one of Faherty’s favorites because of its bright and numerous stars. The cosmic light show is the result of space dust from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, which takes 133 years to orbit the sun. The comet’s nucleus is 16 miles across.

The best way to see a meteor shower is on your back under a dark sky. Be patient. It takes about 30 minutes for the eyes to adjust to the darkness, which will make the meteors more visible.

Another dazzling sight to see with the naked eye this time of year is the Milky Way. In July, it is high in the sky, especially at the end of the month.

The constellations Scorpio and Sagittarius are nearby and can be used to find the center of the Milky Way. It’s hard to see from the city, but New Yorkers vacationing under darker skies like the Catskills or further north will see clouds in the night sky.

“It’s an ingenuity that represents all these stars that make up the disk of the Milky Way that we live in,” Faherty said. “The Milky Way is so wonderful – it stretches from one side of the sky to the other and looks like a white river.”

While binoculars and telescopes are not required, a closer look can bring many of these celestial sights to life, such as Saturn’s rings, as well as the surfaces of the planets and moons. The Association of Amateur Astronomers hosts free public viewings throughout the city, several times a week.

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