Nights of shooting stars: How to observe the stars this weekend?

Summer often rhymes with star nights! For the faithful, as for the amateurs, since Friday and until Sunday, July 30 is held the festival of Nuits des Étoiles. For the occasion, more than 500 sites, in Toulouse, Paris, Brittany or everywhere in France, invite everyone to come and watch the shooting stars.

At the occasion of these “Nights of stars” this weekend, get ready, because you risk to take full eyes. As every year since 1991, astronomy fans have an appointment on July 28th, 29th and 30th with the 27th “Nights of the Stars”.

The French Agency for Astronomy announces this year “a sky very conducive to observation”. The opportunity to see Perseids, shooting stars observable in the sky from mid-July to late August. And if Jupiter and Saturn will remain the main attractions, flashes, satellites, the International Space Station and even exoplanets will also be visible.

Where to see them in the sky?

Les Nuit des Etoiles take place over 3 days, Friday 28th, Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th of July 2017. Since 1991, the Nuit des étoiles has been organized in France, and in several European countries by associations, notably the French Association d Astronomy . They are renowned astrophysicists or scientists, such as Hubert Reeves or Alain Cirou, in association with France 2, who launched the event. More information on the official website of the French Association of Astronomy.

The French Astronomy Agency has planned everything for these three very special nights. More than 476 free observation sites are available throughout France.

Animations, conferences, and workshops will be organized and of course experts equipped with telescopes will be present. The opportunity to meet professionals and ask questions about “habitable land”, the theme of this year. The website of the French Astronomical Agency proposes the location of all observatories in France:

Nights of shooting stars: How to observe the stars this weekend? Map of observation sites in France – French Agency for Astronomy

If you do not want to move, it is also possible to discover the constellations for yourself. The application “Sky and the space +” available on the Apple store and Android gives a map (visible at night) of different constellations and a user manual to observe them.

What’s the night of shooting stars?

We years, the Earth crosses the Perseids. It is a meteor swarm consisting of debris from an ancient planet: Swift Tutle. Their mass goes from the pinhead to that … a pea! By coming into contact with the Earth’s atmosphere, these little rocks offer a magnificent natural spectacle: shooting stars.

How to observe shooting stars during this Night of Stars?

A moment to live during the holidays! The Night of the Shooting Stars had a singular title when it was created in 1991 since the event lasted only one day. But it became plural: “Les Nuits des Etoiles”, since the event was extended to 3 consecutive nights of observation from the edition of the year 2000. If the weather is of the part in several places of observation in France, it will observe the planets Jupiter, Mars and Saturn and the rain of Perseids shooting stars.

With the naked eye you will have to be patient. Try to get away from urban areas that ruin the view with pollution. Go to the countryside, for example.

If you can not, turn off all the lights around. A good quarter of an hour is usually enough for your view to go into night mode. Warning, just be exposed to a single light (even a lighter) to be forced to start the process again. Indeed, when the brightness drops, it is no longer the same receivers of the eye that work. Only use a red light to observe your card.

With binoculars, the possibilities of seeing the jewels of the sky are multiplied. Just make sure that the lens is big enough: the AFA guide advises models with an X7 zoom and a minimum objective of 50 centimeters (7 × 50 or 10 × 50), to start. Larger models require the purchase of a tripod. The famous telescope or glasses (there are less than 100 euros) are also possibilities.

When to scan the sky (and to see what?)

From Friday to Sunday, the show will start at 18:00 with the sun. “Stains and eruptions may eventually be seen by telescope” according to AFA. It is the moon and its craters accompanied by the star Spica and the constellation of the virgin, 250 light years away, which will then take over.

At 22:00, Jupiter and Saturn will be visible to the naked eye, the very colorful double star Albiréo, too. With the binoculars you will be able to see the saturn rings and three of the main satellites of Jupiter. (see the complete run of 2017 nights)

The festivities will also continue next month, as the peak of activity of the Perseids is expected this year on the night of August 12 to 13.

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