Mon-Fri 9am-5pm
Saturday 9am-6pm
Sunday 11am-6pm
Tonight's Sky - Kirkpatrick Planetarium at Science Museum Oklahoma
Tonight's Sky - Kirkpatrick Planetarium at Science Museum Oklahoma

Tonight's Sky

Explore the night sky each month with Kirkpatrick Planetarium Director Tom Arnold! Each month Tom will provide a sky chart, created using Digistar Technology, and a viewing guide with labeled constellations that are visible from inside Oklahoma City. You’ll be able to locate which prominent stars and planets are located in the evening sky and learn about the month’s astronomical events.
 
Tom has had a life-long passion for the night sky, with his early fascination leading to a professional career in astronomy. Whether you consider yourself an astronomer or not, we hope that by exploring Oklahoma’s night sky and learning how to identify stars and constellations, you find a similar sense of wonder. Below you will find information to discover our universe, just by looking up. 

To use the monthly star chart, hold the chart overhead, with the chart’s north marker pointing north.

Download the chart!

Photo of The Milky Way

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

 

 

 

Saturn - Tonight's Sky - Kirkpatrick Planetarium

The Planets in August

Mercury
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. 

Venus
For those of us in the northern hemisphere, Venus won’t be visible this month.

Mars
In the evening sky, low in the west, Mars will be a difficult object to see this month after sunset.

Jupiter
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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturn
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.