in our departments. Falling stars and planets… astronomical phenomena that we see in the sky this summer

Vacations, temperatures that make you want to get outside, and (usually) no clouds: summer is the best time to observe the skies.

Bernard Chevalier, President Lyon Astronomical Societyhe notes with humor: “You know why we see more meteors in the summer than in the winter? Because people are outside!”

And it is probably no coincidence that a third of the UFO sightings published by the Geipan group (Group for Studies and Information on Unidentified Space Phenomena) occurred in June, July or August.

We can’t guarantee you encounters of the third kind if you look up, but you’ll still be able to witness beautiful astronomical phenomena.

A small (hopefully clear) overview of what you can see in the summer of 2023 and how you can see it.

Super Moon on August 1 and 31, but…

I actually got to see the first “Super Moon” of 2023 on the night of July 3-4. There will be three more this year, including two this summer on August 1 and 31.

So you will be able to see a moon that appears brighter and larger than usual, thanks to the coupling of the phase of the full moon and the distance between the Earth and the satellite at perigee (the moment when the moon finds its closest to our planet).

If a situation gets people talking as soon as it happens, with great shots of monuments or skyscrapers around the world in front of a moon that looks huge when it’s close to the horizon, the reality is less exciting.

“The distance from Earth to the Moon is about 360,000 to 400,000 kilometers, so it plays around ten percent. From there to talking about a Super Moon, there is a step that I don’t necessarily go over,” says Bernard Chevalier, of the Astronomical Society of Lyon.

Specially recommended for talented and well-equipped photographers…

We promise you the stars!

Like every summer, in August Earth will pass through a cloud of dust and pebble debris from Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. These objects burn up as they enter the atmosphere, giving rise to the famous shooting stars (which are not, then, stars).

The Perseid period runs from July 17 to August 24, with a peak expected on August 13 byAl Nayzak International. So the nights of August 12th, 13th, and 14th would be a good time to try and see the shooting stars.

Visualization of the Perseid debris cloud in the solar system. Earth’s orbit in blue near the sun. /

And no equipment is needed to make ends meet. “The ideal is to lie on a deck chair and observe the widest part of the sky with the naked eye,” explains Bernard Chevalier. An hour should be enough to see some cars.

“Obviously, I would not say that I laid my head cut off, but provided that I am not in Place Bellecour and far from the city lights, we are almost guaranteed to see many of them,” promises the president of the Astronomical Society of Lyon.

There is bound to be a “starry night” near you

The Starry Nights, organized by the French Astronomy Association, will take place on August 11, 12 and 13, 2023.

So you can observe the Perseids with the naked eye, but you can also benefit from telescopes and interpretations from astronomy enthusiasts.

The Astronomical Society of Lyon thus organizes its night of August 11th at Fort de Côte-Lorette, in Saint-Genis-Laval, on August 11th (or 12th in the case of capricious weather the day before).

In Saint-Étienne, the Planetarium will give free performances on August 11th.

Discover the list of planned events on the website of the French Astronomical Society

For night owls, but also for early risers

If you miss the shooting stars, you can still take advantage of the summer to see planets and other stars to spot the sky. With different options depending on whether you are a late sleeper or an early riser.

“During the first half of July, Venus is still visible in the evening. In the morning there are Jupiter and Saturn, the latter rising early,” predicts Bernard Chevalier. “On July 14th, for example, Jupiter rises a little after three in the morning. So, you’d better go see it around four or five in the morning, before sunrise.”

Applications to know where to search

The naked eye can be enough to spot these planets, but ideal is to have a pair of binoculars. And why not, an app on my smartphone to search in the right place.

Stellarium For example, free software, partly founded by the French, that makes it possible to simulate the night sky on a computer or phone. The free version is sufficient “, advised the president of the Lyon Astronomical Society. Sky SafariAnd sky view or night sky They are also reliable alternatives.

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