After July’s wet, humid wildfire air from Canada, August has so far gifted us with crisp, dry, Canadian air. But according to my favorite source, The Old Farmers’ Almanac, the weather will not be the major gift for August. Look to the skies…! August will be framed with two super moons and decorated by meteor showers and fireballs whizzing across the sky throughout the month.
On August 1, a supermoon cast its light across the night landscape of Topsmead. According to NASA, “a supermoon occurs when the Moon’s orbit is closest (perigee) to Earth at the same time the Moon is full.” Being closest to the earth, the Moon looks its largest, hence it is super-sized. This moon has been given different names by indigenous American peoples. The Algonquins named it the Sturgeon Moon after the largest freshwater fish in North America, a fish that was essential to their livelihood. The Cree called it the Flying Up Moon because they noticed that early August was the time that baby birds took their first forays from their nests and learned to fly.
The name Flying Up Moon is certainly perfect for Topsmead’s bobolink population. The babies are fledging from their nests in the hayfields and building their wing strength for the long 6,000-mile journey south to spend the winter in Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.
The next supermoon will rise on August 30, and as an added bonus, this one will be a super blue moon. According to NASA, “the term blue moon refers to the second full moon of any month, not its color. While regular blue moons only occur around once every three years, super blue moons are usually spaced apart by around 10 years.” So August is gifting us with two special cosmic lunar events!
But wait…. There is more to come! Peaking August 12, 13, and 14, the Perseid meteor showers offer a steady and often colorful performance of 50 to 90 meteors or more per hour, frequently leaving long trains across the sky. They tend to strengthen in number as late night deepens into the wee hours of the morning and are often best before dawn.
A somewhat more minor meteor event is the Alpha Capricornids, familiarly called the Alpha Caps. The fun of these guys is that they are fireballs rather than showers. On any random August evening, you might see one of them blazing across the sky, even in the light of the full moon.
I feel a kinship with Miss Edith, who was a bit of a night bird and known for sleeping in, and so I am certain that she was up and out on the lawn above Underhill watching for the Perseids and the Alpha Caps. She might have even woken up the Burrall sisters to come out and meteor watch with her. And I am also certain that all three of them felt the awe and the wonder of their cosmic Augusts.