August 2017 promises to be extraordinary, astronomically speaking. There will be a partial lunar eclipse on Aug. 7, though it will not be visible in Tucson.
On the evening of Aug. 11 and the morning of Aug. 12, the Perseids meteors will be at their best. Unfortunately, meteor visibility will be considerably diminished due to the bright waning gibbous moon on that night.
The long-awaited Great American Eclipse takes place on Monday, Aug. 21.This is the first total solar eclipse visible from the continental United States since 1979. The next one is in 2024. The eclipse on Aug. 21 has a narrow path of totality (about 70 miles wide) which goes across the entire country from Oregon to South Carolina. Tucson is out of the path of totality but will enjoy a good partial eclipse. I will have more details in a later column.
Now is rather late for planning to see totality. It is best to look for a location with a good prospect for clear weather. You will also have to consider travel times and costs and availability of lodging as well as plan for large crowds on eclipse day. The NASA eclipse website is a good starting point for learning about the eclipse: eclipse2017.nasa.gov
To warm up for August viewing, look at the 11½-day-old moon tonight in the southeast around 8 p.m. Ten degrees to its west (right) is Saturn.