The Sky in August
|Mon. 2nd||Saturn Opposition|
|Sun. 8th||New Moon|
|Wed. 11th -Thurs. 12th||Perseid Meteors|
|Sun. 15th||First Quarter Moon|
|Fri. 20th||Jupiter Opposition|
|Sun. 22nd||Full Moon|
|Mon. 30th||Last Quarter Moon|
To use the monthly star chart, hold the chart overhead, with the chart’s north marker pointing north.
This month, Mercury will be lost in the glow of the setting sun. However, on August 18 it will be very close to Mars in the western sky just before sunset. This is a difficult observation since the sun is still above the horizon and extreme care must be taken if you wish to observe this close conjunction of the two planets.
For those of us in the northern hemisphere, Venus won’t be visible this month.
In the evening sky, low in the west, Mars will be a difficult object to see this month after sunset.
Jupiter will be visible in the night sky all month, moving from Aquarius into Capricorn. On August 20, it will be at its closest distance from Earth, which is called opposition. This also means it will appear much larger in a telescope than other times (as seen below). For observers with a telescope, this would be a great time to enjoy this giant of the solar system.
Another treat this month will be opposition of Saturn on August 2. Like Jupiter, it will appear a little larger in a telescope. Although not as impressive as the size difference with Jupiter, it will still present an excellent telescopic object this month, visible throughout the night in Sagittarius.
Uranus & Neptune
Telescopic objects only.
Object of the Month
The Milky Way is filled with vast clouds of gas and dust, not all of which appear bright. This is because they aren’t illuminated by any nearby stars. A good example of this is found in the constellation Ophiuchus, low in the Milky Way in the northern hemisphere, just above the constellation of Scorpio. The black lanes visible in the image above are some of the dark dust clouds.
Containing one of the most colorful sites in the sky, this field is home to a variety of nebula types: dark nebula, reflection nebulas and emission nebulas. It also contains a dense globular cluster, M80 seen above in the blue box. A very dense cluster, it contains hundreds of thousands of very old stars, one of the most populated in the Milky Way. The red star-forming regions seen here are some of the closest to Earth, only 1300 light-years away. The yellow/gold color nebulas are reflection nebulas associated with the bright yellow star immediately to their right.
The image above was taken with a DSLR camera and 200mm lens riding on a motorized telescope mount. It’s a composite of 30, ten-minute exposures, a total of five hours taken under a very dark sky.