While the Event (with capital E) of this Summer 2017 will be the great American eclipse in a few week time, we Europeans will have a few things to cheer about nonetheless – August will be a memorable month for stargazers even from our latitudes.
The eclipse first: somebody here in the UK will probably enjoy a shallow partial eclipse in the minutes before sunset on that day. This is what I have found out: “peak eclipse occurs about 20:00 BST when the Moon hides the lower 6% of the Sun as seen from Penzance and about 2% from E Scotland. For much of England and Wales, the Sun sets before the eclipse is over” (read the whole article here). If in Edinburgh is not raining (which it generally does in this time of the year), I’ll probably catch a glimpse of it.
There are other interesting features in August, and the Perseids shower is one of the regular appointments. depending on where you are, you can admire a fantastic show. Also, we have the bright stars of the Summer Triangle, Deneb, Altair and Vega, stand high in the S at our August map times as Pegasus and Andromeda climb in the East, to the right of Cassiopeia and Perseus.
Some planets are visible, too: Jupiter and Saturn are well visible during the whole month, while Venus rises in the NE 3 hours before the Sun to be a brilliant (mag –4.0) morning star in our E sky. Forget about Mars and Mercure instead, which will be hidden by the Sun’s luminosity.
As usual, I recommend using a good sky map software (I have spoken about them in another post, and some are free) to know how to find your coordinates in case you’re not familiar with them.