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August 2017: Perseid Meteor Shower & Solar Eclipse

Topic: Meteor Shower / Eclipse
Article Published - August 2, 2017
by Dr. Jim Lattis, Director, UW Space Place
Perseids Meteor Shower

The annual Perseid meteor shower peaks this year from the 12th to the 13th of August. Normally the best meteor observing is between midnight and dawn, but this year the waning gibbous moon will rise in the east around midnight (earlier on the 12th) and rise high enough in the sky in a few hours to spoil meteor watching. So getting out early to a dark site and watching in the hours just before and after midnight is probably the best plan. Facing roughly northwest for meteor watching will orient you to the rising radiant point of the meteor shower, in Perseus, as well as the "W" shaped constellation just above him, Cassiopeia.

The solar eclipse of 21 August will be a deep partial eclipse for all observers in Wisconsin, with maximum obscuration greatest in the southeast of the state and least in the northwest. For beginning, mid-eclipse, and ending times in selected locations, see the table below. In Madison the obscuration will be about 85%, leaving a thin crescent of the solar disk visible at its deepest. See image below.

solar eclipse 85%

At no time will this eclipse be safe for Wisconsin-based observers to view with the unprotected eye, so either safe solar filters, specifically made for solar viewing, or a projection method will be required. Looking at the image of the Sun projected by a pinhole (in an index card, for example) onto another white surface is safe and effective.

Wisconsin times - solar eclipse

From the University of Wisconsin's "Space Place"
Villager Mall, 2300 S Park Street, Madison

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