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Summer 2024 Night Sky Report

This summer’s night sky is going to be full of amazing stargazing, meteor showers, and more! 

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Everyone always gushes about Hilton Head Island’s natural beauty—and we don’t disagree, they have a reason to gush! There’s a very noticeable lack of neon signs, billboards, and really anything that’s designed to stick out, for that matter. Throughout your day, you’ll only see greenery, beautiful beaches, and architectural styles that blend in with the landscape on purpose.

But at night, that’s when the feeling-like-you’re-in-the-middle-of-nowhere bliss sets in.  Maybe it’s the main reason the trip was booked!

It takes a while to get used to driving at night, as there are very few street lamps to guide your way and it’s just plain dark. Along the beach during turtle nesting season, locals and visitors join forces to stop light pollution from deterring any sea turtle from laying her eggs, or confusing hatchlings on their journey to the water’s edge. As far as the rest of the island is concerned, there aren’t that many spots where it gets any lighter.

That means when you look up on a clear night, the dazzling night sky will most likely catch you off guard, and make you wonder, “When was the last time I saw this many stars?”

This summer’s night sky is going to be full of amazing stargazing, meteor showers, and more! 

Here is a list of what to look out for:

Earth’s Aphelion & New Moon

July 5th

Not only is tonight the Earth’s Aphelion, meaning Earth will be at the farthest point in orbit away from the Sun, but it’s also a New Moon! Stargazing is typically the best during New Moons, since the Moon won’t be visible due to its position between the Sun and the Earth. Additional New Moons will be on August 4th and September 3rd.

We found a really neat and useful tool for those wishing they could easily point out constellations. Visit Stelvision’s Sky Map and find a free customized map for your location, date, and time!

July’s Buck Moon

July 21st

Known as the “Buck Moon,” July’s Full Moon’s nickname stems from the Native American Algonquin people who connected the Moon’s monthly phase to the period of time when male deer begin to grow their antlers. While the name, “Buck Moon” was the one that caught on the most, other native groups named this specific Full Moon after thunder, berries, salmon, and more.

Perseid Meteor Shower

Peak: August 11 & 12 (Period: July 17-August 24)

Plan to get up early during these days to see the Perseid Meteor Shower. This meteor shower happens every year and is said to peak during the predawn hours. It’s expected to produce up to 100 meteors per hour, along with a great chance to see a bunch of shooting stars. As long as it’s a clear night, these days will be a great time for viewing, as the moon’s phase won’t be as bright and steal the spotlight.

Blue Sturgeon Moon (Supermoon)

August 19th

Last year, we saw the Sturgeon Moon and the Blue Moon–both were Supermoons that bookended the month of August. This year, the first Supermoon is also a seasonal Blue Moon, therefore the two have been combined. The moon’s peak illumination will be at 2:26pm Eastern.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, sturgeon are caught in the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain during this time of year. The Corn Moon, Harvest Moon, and Mountain Shadows Moon are just some other names for this moon. Learn more on the Farmer’s Almanac website.

Comet A3

August 28th

Otherwise known as Comet Tsuchinshan-ATLAS that was only just discovered in 2023, it is said that it might be visible to the naked eye starting now. While comets can be unpredictable, experts say that Comet A3 is supposedly close to the Sun and Earth sometime during the months of September and October. Stay tuned!

Saturn at Opposition

September 8th

That’s a fancy way of saying that the Earth will be directly in between the Sun and Saturn, meaning that the planet will be visible from sunset to sunrise and easily seen with a telescope. This is the closest view (a.k.a, the best) that we’ll be able to get of Saturn, so mark your calendars!

Partial Lunar Eclipse and Harvest Supermoon

September 17th & 18th

Happening only days before the September Equinox on the 22nd, this year’s second Supermoon is also the Harvest Moon. The Partial Lunar Eclipse will be visible from North America, and its peak will actually be on September 17th at 10:44pm for those viewing on Hilton Head Island. Learn more about Lunar Eclipses on the NASA’s website.

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