Here’s how to take advantage of the ‘Nights of the Stars’ to observe the sky

The nightfall of Friday, August 6, marks the beginning of the “Nights of the Stars”, organized every year by the French Astronomy Association. They celebrate their 30th anniversary this year and are placed under the sign of shooting stars, as explained by the AFA, which wishes to “reconnect with tradition”. More than a hundred events are organized throughout France — which can be found on an interactive map put online by the association.

The AFA indicates that “thanks to the absence of the Moon this weekend of August 8, as soon as night falls the constellations of the Summer Triangle — the Lyra, the Swan, and the Eagle — make it possible to orient one easily and to follow the powdering of the Milky Way from north to south, from Cassiopeia and Perseus to Scorpio and Sagittarius, in the direction of the galactic center”, on the express condition of being in a dark area and sky — without light pollution.

The observation of stars — or even planets — can be done with the naked eye, but also with the help of binoculars or a telescope. For optimal observation, it is necessary to move as far away as possible from light sources and, of course, hope that the weather is favorable. The forecast for this weekend can be consulted on the site of Météo France, some areas should benefit from a relatively clear sky.

Rain of shooting stars on the program

During the vigil, which will begin with the sunset around 9 pm (Paris time, with a shift of – 25 minutes to the east and + 25 minutes to the west), it will be possible to observe Venus (around 9:30 pm), very bright, but also Saturn (from 10:45 pm) and Jupiter (from 11 pm to dawn). Constellations such as Cassiopeia, Pegasus, the Big Bear, and the Little Bear, will be visible from 22:15.

“The most famous stellar ensemble of the summer season”, the Triangle of summer, is composed of the very bright stars, Vega, Deneb, and Altaïr, respectively located in the constellations of Lyra, Swan, and Eagle.

The most important rain of shooting stars of the summer (between July 17 and August 24), the Perseids, will be observable from 23:15 Paris time. However, the peak is expected a few days later, on the night of August 12 to 13.

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