Welcome back to the monthly article on astronomy, brought to you by the Administaff Observatory in Humble ISD and The Tribune Newspapers. The last month has been so rainy that we have not seen much of the night sky. But we know that the rain will someday stop, and the clouds will part, and we will see the clear sky once again. This month there are some great things to see, and we focus on light pollution. We have exciting news, our e-mail list server has just passed the 400 member mark. The community of Humble and the Administaff Observatory Society welcomes you and anyone who is interested in receiving an e-mail about astronomical happenings at the observatory and throughout the universe. If you would like to be on the list, please visit our website, www.humbleisd.net/2232104916541313/site, and sign up (follow the link on the right “E-mail List Sign-Up”). Observing Highlights:  - Mid-July marks the season when Jupiter, the king of the planets, returns to the evening sky. In the fall it will be visible during our Public Viewing times at the Observatory.  - In early August, Mars, Saturn, Mercury and Venus intermingle in the western skies. In early August, about 30 minutes after sunset, look for Mercury low in the west. It is rather faint and you need very clear skies. On Aug. 6, Mercury is as far from the sun as it gets (greatest elongation). Binoculars will make it easier to see. Venus will be above it to the left and is the brightest object in the nighttime sky except for the moon. Saturn will be directly above Venus, and Mars will be above and to the left. Look again Aug. 11. Mercury will be just above and to the left of the crescent moon.   - Aug. 13, in the wee hours of the morning is the peak for the Perseid Meteor Shower. Find a dark place, away from all lights (and the sky glow from Houston), let your eyes adjust and watch the skies. The morning of Aug. 12 may also be good. There may be as many as 100 meteors per hour during the peak. The moon sets early these nights, so it should not interfere. Note that one of the requirements for seeing meteor showers is a dark sky. This is true for objects like the Milky Way (our galaxy), too. There are many things, some natural, some man-made that affect how dark our skies are at night. The sun is so bright that we see no stars during the day. A full moon is so bright that it makes it difficult or impossible to see many objects in the night sky. Astronomers try to observe when the moon is not up so that it will not detract from the beauty of the sky. These we have no control over. But, there are things that we can control that could improve our nighttime view. If you are standing in downtown Houston, during the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower, I expect you would see no meteors at all. There is so much light that your eyes will not adjust to the dark, and much light points into the sky. Dust reflects some of this light back in our eyes and makes the sky glow. If you were in west Texas, you would see the meteors and the Milky Way in all their splendor.   There are studies that show too much lighting is unhealthy for humans and animals, and is actually not good for security. And perhaps one of the best reasons to improve lighting is financial. Light sent to the sky is wasted energy, and that is wasted money. There are some simple guidelines that can greatly reduce this sky glow. And it is true that every little bit helps. Each improved light means darker skies, and you can help. 1. No light should point above horizontal. Lights for safety and security need to light the ground, not the sky. 2. Use only the amount of light you need. Too much light causes glare and actually blinds you to people and things. 3. Use light only when you need it. Turn lights off when not needed and use motion detectors. I recently replaced the lights on the front of my house with “full-cutoff lighting.” These are lights that shine light toward the ground. When you look at them, they light up our entryway, but you cannot see the bulbs themselves. It is actually rather attractive and very functional. The observatory will soon be embarking on a dark sky campaign. We are looking for residences and businesses that have good, night-sky-friendly lighting. If you think you or your business qualify as night-sky-friendly, we would like to recognize you. Please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Help us bring back the dark night skies, join us in improving lighting and saving money, so we all can enjoy the beauty of the night sky. We want to bring back the Milky Way to our area. For more information, visit the International Dark-Sky Association, visit www.darksky.org. The Administaff Observatory in Humble ISD has public viewing nights once each month. The next one is Friday, Aug. 13, from 8 – 10 p.m. We hope you will join us. If the weather cooperates, we will be observing celestial wonders through the telescopes and local astronomers will be available to answer your questions. The observatory is located next to Jack Fields Elementary in Humble. For more information, visit www.humbleisd.net/2232104916541313/site. – Dr. Aaron B. Clevenson  Dr. Clevenson is the director and lead astronomer of the Administaff Observatory located in Humble ISD.

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