Meteors, conjunctions, occultations, auroras, all to delight stargazers this summer

It’s a big summer for stargazers this year.

Dark Sky Chair for the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association, Mike Warkentin spoke with CKNX News Today about what we can expect.

“We have a lunar occultation of Mars, we have a total lunar eclipse, we’ve got a meteor shower, a planetary conjunction, and some wonderful viewing opportunities for the northern lights, and Jupiter and Saturn,” said Warkentin

You can see the planetary conjunction right now but you have to get up pretty early, between 4:45 a.m. and 5 a.m.

“This summer you have to be an early morning person to see the planets, until roughly the middle of August, because they are all morning objects” explained Warkentin.

The conjunction is visible in the south-southeast sky near the horizon.

It’s a peak for solar activity making the northern lights visible much further south than usual.

“The summer’s been very, very actively recently. Lots of solar flares with cause the aurora or the northern lights,” he said.

He says you can see those with the naked eye if you can find a dark location to view them. The peak of this sun cycle is not until 2025.

“What you need to do is just listen to the radio and when you hear the words ‘coronal mass ejection,’ CME, that’s basically the sign that a solar storm has occurred and three days later…we should be able to see the auroras,” said Warkentin.

In the middle of August is the Perseid meteor shower but it will be competing with a full moon. Warkentin said normally you can see 100 meteors an hour.

The lunar eclipse is later this year, on November 8th. It’s the second. There was also one in May.

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