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THIS MONTH’S SKY - August 2012


This Month’s Sky

August 2012

     August’s Evening Planets: Mars and Saturn are the only bright planets in the evening, but a lot happens this month. Mars rapidly approaches Saturn and the bright star Spica. On August 21 the Moon joins them. Watch their positions change night-to-night.

     August’s Evening Stars: August’s constellations include the Summer Triangle containing the bright stars Vega, Deneb and Altair, in Lyra, Cygnus and Aquila respectively. Low in the south are Scorpius and Sagittarius. Starting to get low in the west is Arcturus, the bright star of Boōtes. Look east to spot Pegasus, the first hint of autumn.

     August’s Morning Planets: Dominating the morning sky are Jupiter, Venus, and (later in the month) Mercury. Jupiter rises at 2 AM early in August and at midnight at month’s end. It’s in the constellation Taurus. Venus comes up at 3 AM all month, moving into Gemini during August. Mercury can best be seen between August 11 and 25 low in the eastern sky.

     August’s Morning Stars: The constellations of winter are at their best. Look one or two hours before dawn to view Orion, Taurus, Gemini, Auriga, Procyon, Canis Minor and Canis Major.

August’s “Skylights”

August 1 Full Moon at 11:27 p.m. (EDT)
August 9 Last Quarter Moon at 2:55 p.m. (EDT)
August 11 Moon is 5¼° upper right of Jupiter and 5½° above Aldebaran, the bright star of Taurus. These form an equilateral triangle
August 12 Perseid meteors peak this morning
August 13 Moon is 4° above Venus in the morning sky In the evening sky, Saturn is 2¾° above Mars, which in turn is 1¾° above Spica. A beautiful threesome
August 14-20 Look for Mercury in the east a half hour before sunrise.
August 15 Venus is at greatest western elongation from the Sun (46°)
August 16 Mercury is at greatest western elongation from the Sun (19°)
August 17 New Moon at 11:54 a.m. (EDT)
August 21 Four bright objects appear in a close gather ing! From the Crescent Moon, go 2½° upper right to Spica, then 4½° above Spica to Saturn and see Mars 4¼° lower left of Saturn
August 24 Moon is 4¾° above Antares this morning First Quarter Moon at 9:54 a.m. (EDT) Neptune at opposition
August 31 Full Moon at 9:58 a.m. (EDT)