CAYA Sprouts New Moon Stargazing Guide - August 2017 - Total Solar Eclipse Edition!

by Shell Selvans

Blessed New Moon! In the coming week or two, we welcome you to go outside with your family at 10:00PM or so and enjoy the late summer stars!

To celebrate continued summer stargazing, find the Summer Triangle, with bright Vega directly overhead (see the July stargazing post for more on the Summer Triangle).

Directly south you'll be able to find the teapot, Sagittarius, pouring out steam that is the Milky Way. Sagittarius' spout points at the center of our galaxy, as does the tail of Scorpius, now in the southwest. With Saturn still bright above the center of the galaxy, you can easily find that dark center that all three encircle!

Another special celestial phenomenon you might want to find the exact location of is happening on the Earth instead of in the skies. Next Monday, August 21, the next Total Solar Eclipse will move across the United States in the morning (see this map for timing, which varies by location). I say it "happens on Earth instead of in the skies" because you need to be on Earth to see it… if you were out in space, you would still be able to look at the center of our galaxy, but you wouldn't be in the right place and time for the eclipse!

At precisely the local time of the New Moon, the Moon will pass directly between the Earth and the Sun, casting a dark circle below. You can be in that dark circle for about 2 minutes or less, until it moves along as the Sun and Moon move in the sky, flying across North America from west to east. If you're in the right place and time, and have good weather, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY have a pair of solar glasses to protect your eyes… send the magic out to all of us, if you find you have some miraculous energy to spare!

If you're not in the path of the total eclipse, but are anywhere in North America, you can view the eclipse with a pinhole camera. This kind of camera makes an image safe and easy to see (see this web page to make your own). You will be able to see the partially eclipsed sun in the image on the ground, after light from the Sun passes through the tiny pinhole. And whether you're in the path of totality or not, you'll get to see the hours-long process of the Moon moving in front of the Sun, not just the brief moment when the two are directly aligned!

The following star chart can help you find Sagittarius:

August 2017 Star Chart


Make sure to line the direction printed on the edge of it up with the direction you're facing. After 11:00PM, the stars will have rotated a bit from where they're shown. Also, you might want to find your own chart if you are on our Mother Earth somewhere other than the contiguous 48 states of the U.S., or a similar latitude.

Blessed be your stargazing!

If you enjoyed this and would like to connect more deeply with the stars, our magical community and the children of the world, please join CAYA Sprouts in our monthly “Children of Promise” New Moon working!