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image of super moon on august 30, 2023 from east lansing
image of super moon on august 30, 2023 from east lansing
Original photo by Phebe Jones
Life > Experiences

Set Sites on the Mesosphere

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

Summer has been a fantastic time to watch the sky! With several celestial events visible to the naked eye, people of all ages have been able to enjoy the wonders of our galaxy from their own backyards. For those in Michigan, there were two major events visible even in more populated areas. Personally, I observed events from three distinct locations: Northville Michigan; Morpeth, Ontario, Canada; and East Lansing, Michigan. 

Although Northville is the place where I witnessed the densest starfall, it was actually between the sightings of shooting stars in Canada. A majority of the night was spent curled up under a blanket with eyes fixed on the sky above. In a two-hour period, I witnessed more than twelve shooting stars race across the sky. At 4:15 a.m. on August 13, 2023, I witnessed two meteors shoot across the sky in tandem before the shower began to die down. 

The sightings made in Morpeth, Ontario, Canada, specifically occurred in Rondeau Provincial Park on the Lake Erie lakeshore. With cottages spread throughout this area and far from the beach, light pollution is severely reduced, giving a clear view of the stars above. This allows not only for constellation identification but also for viewing of the Milky Way itself! Shooting stars, visible in the mesosphere, or meteors adorned the sky on multiple occasions during the period of the Perseid Meteor Shower and were not just limited to sightings correlating with the dates where a majority of meteors were sighted. These particular sightings took place on two dates: July 24, 2023, and August 16, 2023. 

In July, I was accompanied by my uncle and grandfather down to the lakeshore to look at the radiant view of the Milky Way visible that night! We were lucky enough to observe three shooting stars racing across the sky through the brilliant colors of the Milky Way. Viewing these stars inspired me to look at the other events taking place in my area for the remainder of 2023. When I returned to this area with my immediate family in August, I could not wait to go and observe the sky again with my sister. 

On August 16, we were unable to see the Milky Way due to light present from the Moon, but we did not give up on trying to see my sister’s first constellation and shooting star. With a little patience, six separate sightings of shooting stars were made by her alone. It was a moment I was grateful to get to share with her before she goes off to college in the coming years. 

While most sightings were star-related, the sighting just off Michigan State University’s campus was a rare moon that adorned the sky after dusk on August 31, 2023. Although it is common to see three to four supermoons a year, according to scientists at NASA, it does not often fall on a blue moon. This refers not to the moon’s color but to the occurrence of two full moons within the span of a single month. With the Earth being in closer proximity to the moon during the time when the supermoon is at its apex, it is easier to see the true beauty with just the naked eye. 

Around 9:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, I and a few dozen others gathered outside an apartment complex to view the moon’s apex and take pictures to document the event. NASA’s average estimate of these events overlapped at an average of nine to eleven years, with some instances even taking closer to two decades to occur. Slightly orange in color, this moon was a sight to behold for all who had the opportunity to see it. 

Despite being fascinated by space my whole life, this summer was the first time I actively sought to see celestial objects in the sky. It was a magical experience I was grateful to share with my close family members for free. I can’t wait to experience more beauty that is out of this world! 




Phebe Jones is the Treasurer for Her Campus at MSU. Jones is a senior studying biochemistry as well as molecular genetics. Jones has published many times by local libraries for summer writing contests. She doesn't write often in her majors and wants to keep in enjoying one of her favorite activities. In her free time, Jones enjoys: reading, videogames, horror movies, listening to music, and cartoons.