The sky’s in its element this weekend


– with ‘shooting stars’ galore!

Dear Editor,
THE planets Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars are lined off this month of August 2018: Venus in Virgo, Jupiter in Libra, Saturn in Sagittarius, and Mars in Capricorn.
Venus can be seen up to about 21:00h, Jupiter up to about midnight, Saturn up to 02:00h, and Mars up to 04:00h. Mars has overtaken Jupiter in brightness, and is now the 4th brightest heavenly body (after the Sun, Moon and Venus) up to September.

This weekend of August 11-12, the Moon is fairly new and will therefore not be interfering with visibility. That interference will be left to the weather, and bright city lights.

Every year around August 11-12, the Perseid meteors encounter the Earth. They are called the Perseid meteors because when you see these shooting stars, they appear to emerge from the constellation Perseus, which rises not until around midnight. The next time this meteoric shower will be so near a favourable New Moon will be in the year 2026.

The University of Guyana Astronomical Society (UGAS) has informed me that they are going to use the 2018 opportunity to view the Perseid meteors, which are sporadic, but can average 70 meteors per minute in good visibility. So they are renting a high rooftop in Queen Street, Kitty, opposite the Glow Hotel, to minimise the bright city lights, and are inviting the public at a cost of $1,000 per person, $500 per child, to camp out for the events.

They plan to set up 18:30h on Sunday August 12, and showcase their recently acquired 10” reflecting telescope, while providing the opportunity for those who have their own instruments to use or demonstrate them on the planets, Andromeda and our own Milky Way galaxies, and all the interesting constellations.

Early comers may be able to catch the Southern Cross and Venus before they set in the west. Knowledgeable persons should be available all night until dawn to talk night- sky lore, and discuss theories of the universe. I am told that refreshments can be purchased on location.

So, let’s pray the weather permits clear viewing. We can always wait it out in fruitful discussion, and answering of questions.

Alfred Bhulai