• Stars compete with lighthouses for attention this week.
  • Maria Thibodeau

Meteors and Two Giants

There is still time in the nights ahead to enjoy the Perseid meteor shower, which peaked in the wee hours of this morning. Take a look at any hour well after sunset and you might see a late straggler from the shower. The timing with the crescent moon is great. The moon sets in the western sky fairly early in the evening, giving stargazers a dark night sky. The only requirement is fairly cloudless skies.

This is a great time to familiarize yourself with two giant stars of summer. Overhead, the brightest star in the sky is Vega. Astronomers like Vega, because of the many stories it has unveiled. Vega, the principal star in the constellation Lyra the harp, is among the closest. It takes light 26 years to reach us.

Having a somewhat closer view of this star than others, astronomers were early to discover there is plenty of evidence the star is big with a solar system bigger than our own and maybe even planets.

They know that Vega has an outer asteroid belt, like our solar system.

Look to the south and a bit to the southwest and you’ll see another bright star of similar color, Spica, the principal star in the zodiacal constellation Virgo. Spica may look as close as Vega but it is so much farther away. The star is ten times farther away from us than Vega, at 262 light years. To be so far away and to be that bright, Spica is even substantially bigger than Vega and peculiar in another way. Astronomers discovered through evaluating the light that Spica is two stars held close together.


 

Sunrise and Sunset
DaySunriseSunset
Fri., August 145:487:43
Sat., August 155:497:41
Sun., August 165:507:40
Mon., August 175:517:38
Tues., August 185:527:37
Wed., August 195:537:36
Thurs., August 205:547:34
Fri., August 215:557:33

Temperatures and Precipitation
DayMax (Fº)Min (Fº)Inches
August 782620.00
August 880650.00
August 979660.00
August 1074570.00
August 1178640.00
August 1273661.65
August 1383630.00

 

Water temperature in Edgartown harbor: 75º F

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