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Look Up! Summer 2022 Astronomy Sights

Updated: Jul 23



Tucked between Des Moines and Omaha, this region of the state has some of the darkest skies in Iowa. Whiterock Conservancy’s dark skies are attributed to its distance from large cities and the local efforts to protect dark skies through Coon Rapids’ dark sky-compliant lighting ordinance.


When you look up, the night sky no longer resembles the one humans observed for thousands of years. This is due in part to light pollution, which has reduced the visibility of stars and other celestial objects at night. The loss of dark skies is from an increased use of nighttime lighting. Yes, even your twinkle lights.

Light pollution is excess use of nighttime lighting that can lead to negative outcomes like:

  • Inability to see the stars at night

  • Disturbing native wildlife behavior patterns

  • Disturbing human sleep and behavior patterns

  • Invading privacy

  • High glare lights can reduce nighttime vision and driving safety

  • Wasted energy

Photo by: Lynn Reihman

Too much light at night can affect both humans and nocturnal species. Birds, bats, and moths may experience altered behavior patterns of mating, migration, and searching for food. When wildlife becomes disturbed or disoriented by light, they are more likely to be preyed upon by other animals or hit by cars. Humans may even experience disruption in their circadian rhythm due to frequent exposure to nighttime light. The circadian rhythm regulates sleeping and eating patterns, hormone levels, core body temperature, brain wave activity, and even cell regeneration.


Protecting the night skies also preserves an important piece of shared human history. For eons humans have looked to the night skies for inspiration and guidance and created stories around the stars and planets. Today, the number of places in the world with truly dark skies continues to decrease. Fortunately, light pollution is one of easiest forms of pollution to prevent and several methods can be easily implemented at home.

  • Use only the wattage necessary

  • Use light switches and motion detection lights to reduce the time lights are left on

  • Use a cut-off hood, shade, or cap on light fixtures to prevent light from spreading horizontally or vertically, and position light fixtures strategically

  • Reduce the brightness of light fixtures to decrease glare

Help us protect our dark skies and reduce your impact when camping at Starfield.

 

This summer, there will several opportunities to view celestial events such as full moons, meteor showers, and planets in our dark skies. Camp at Star Field Campground to experience these astronomical sights!

 

July

  • July 13: Full Moon/Supermoon. The second of three supermoons in 2022. Moon will be near its closest approach to earth and look larger and brighter.

  • July 28: New Moon. TIP: Best time to view the stars, the moon will not be visible.

  • July 28 – 29: Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower. Shower that produces up to 20 meteors per an hour at its peak. It runs from July 12 – August 23 but will peak the night of July 28th. The new moon will make the shower easier to view.



August


  • August 12: Full Moon/Supermoon. The third of the three supermoons in 2022. Moon will be near its closest approach to earth and look larger and brighter.

  • August 12 – 13: Perseids Meteor Shower. One of the best meteor showers, producing up to 60 meteors at its peak. Shower runs from July 17 to August 24 and peaks on the night of August 12. The full moon may block most of the meteors, except the brightest.

  • August 14: Saturn at Opposition. Saturn will be at its closest approach to the earth and illuminated by the sun. It will be brighter than usual and visible all night long. A telescope will be needed to see Saturn’s rings and a few of its moons.

  • August 27: New Moon. TIP: Best time to view the stars, the moon will not be visible.

  • August 27: Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation. TIP: Best time to view mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the evening sky. Look for Mercury in the low western sky just after sunset.

  • August 27: Iowa Star Part Public Night. 7:30 pm at the Star Field Campground. Learn more and register at www.whiterockconservancy.org/event-calendar.


Sources: www.timeanddate.com & www.seasky.org

Telescope at Star Party. Photo by: Tolif Hunt





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