How to See All the Lucky Celestial Events Happening This Week

Jul 30, 2019

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Stargazers, mark your calendars: There’s about to be a rare cosmic alignment of the stars and the moon.

On Wednesday, July 31, the new moon will return for the second time this month. This is a special event called a “Black Moon,” according to the Farmer’s Almanac, and it occurs every 32 months. The catch is that you’ll have to be in North America to see it, since it will be Aug. 1 in the rest of the world when it lines up. During this time, the moon will be positioned almost directly between the sun and Earth. It’s also technically a “supermoon” since it’s in its closest orbit to our planet, though you won’t be able to see it, since only the far side of the moon will be illuminated.

Fortunately, the days surrounding a new moon (and during the new moon) are an ideal time for stargazing. According to Travel + Leisure, there’s typically a week of excellent stargazing before a new moon, and a few days after.  So you have until Aug. 3 to grab your telescope, head to high ground and look for your favorite constellations.

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That’s not all, though. Since Earth tilts towards the Milky Way during the summer months, this a prime opportunity to catch a glimpse of it — along with a shower of shooting stars. Starting the night of Tuesday, July 30, two competing meteor showers (the Southern Delta Aquariids and Alpha Capricornids) will peak, meaning you might be able to see up to 25 shooting stars per hour due to the lack of moonlight.

For your best chance of enjoying your good celestial fortune, it helps to be on either edge of the US, according to CBS News, where viewing conditions should be favorable, or in a narrow band of middle America. Of course, you’ll want to get far from light pollution, too. Consider searching for an officially recognized International Dark Sky Park or Preserve near you, like Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in California; Rappahannock County Park in Virginia; and Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania. You’ll want to start watching the sky after midnight, local time.

The best part of this whole thing? It’s finally time to say goodbye to Mercury in retrograde on August 2. A lucky celestial event indeed.

Featured photo by NASA / Unsplash.

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