With warm summer nights and (usually) clear skies, August is one of the best times of the year for star-gazing in Clark County. Getting outdoors under the stars is also a great activity for kids – they get to stay up late and experience the wonder of the night sky. The moon will be at “half moon” this week so it won’t interfere. Even without a telescope, there are many constellations easy to spot this time of year.
Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn will be visible, along with the constellation Orion and the brightest star Sirius. If you’re lucky, you could spot a rare recurrent nova, RS Ophiuchi, in the southern sky. It shows up every 15-20 years just above the constellations Scorpius and Sagittarius. You might even spot the International Space Station passing overhead.
Watch The Best Show(er) of the Year!
The big celestial show in August is the Perseid Meteor Shower, known as the “Best Meteor Shower of the Year”. It starts around July 17th and peaks August 12-13 every year. But you can still see up to 50 streaks per hours through August 24.
Meteors are basically space debris colliding with the earth’s atmosphere, lighting up the sky in colorful streams. Perseid is especially known for its spectacular fireballs – larger chunks of debris produce brighter and longer streaks that resemble fireworks.
“Star Parties” Are Another Way to Celebrate
“Star Parties” are popular with amateur astronomy clubs. Typically a bunch of enthusiasts will designate a spot to meet up and share their telescopes with whomever shows up. There are many Star Parties scheduled across the country throughout the year. In previous years, local organizations such as Vancouver Sidewalk Astronomy and OMSI have organized Star Parties for groups to share sky-gazing experiences. Although there are no scheduled parties this year, anyone interested can throw their own. Just be respectful of public safety and observe COVID-19 guidelines if you organize one.
The best options are to get away from city lights – eastern Washington or central Oregon are usually great spots. The beach is an option, although the damp marine air might obscure the view a bit. Despite haze from wildfires, some stars are still visible in the late evening. If you plan to camp out, you’ll likely need a reservation, and camp fires will probably be prohibited.
Even if you can’t get away from the city, you can still enjoy the night sky from your back yard. Just turn off your lights and step outside. Maybe pitch a tent or lay down some sleeping bags. Take the time to look up at the spectacular August sky and enjoy the Best Show of the Year!
We sell ViewHomes™ of Clark County, with “Nature as Neighbors” where star-gazing is easy.
Want to learn how? Contact us.
Bernie Stea & Debb Janes