The British summer is often maligned, and usually for good reason we’ll agree. But this year we’ve had some nice balmy (if often hazy) evenings so we’re hopeful to get some more imaging done soon as it’s been a while…
Particularly of interest are some nice upcoming conjunctions and a meteor shower, so with August we’re really spoiling you! “But what can we see and when can we see it!?” we hear you cry…
Well as ever below we’ve listed a little something for everyone, in our monthly astronomy guide for August.
Keep watching the skies!
Friday 1st August - The season for viewing Noctilucent clouds is nearly at an end, but for a few days more you may catch them low down in the northwest (after sunset) and northeast (just before sunrise)
These clouds are in the upper atmosphere and are usually too faint to see, becoming visible only when illuminated by sunlight from below the horizon while the lower layers of the atmosphere are in the Earth’s shadow
Saturday 2nd August - The crescent Moon can be found between Mars and bright star Spica (part of the constellation Virgo) low towards the West after sunset this evening, possibly a nice target for some photography
Monday 4th August - The Moon can be seen at First Quarter phase this morning, and later this evening will be seen just to the left of Saturn (in the constellation Libra) as shown in our guide image below
Friday 8th August - Inner planet Mercury is in Superior Conjunction today and will be unobservable for the rest of the month
Sunday 10th August - The Full Moon is at Perigee today at a distance of 356,895 km (221,764 miles), the closest point of its orbit to the Earth. The August Full Moon is also sometimes known as the Fruit Moon, Corn Moon or Lightning Moon
As the Full Moon coincides with Perigee this causes an effect often referred to as a “Supermoon“. When this occurs the relative closeness of the Moon to the Earth makes our satellite appear 14% larger and 30% brighter then when at its furthest distance
Tuesday 12th August - This evening sees the peak of the annual Perseids meteor shower. Although the bright Moon will spoil some of the show, Perseids are well known for often busy displays, so they’re always worth looking for
The radiant of the shower (the point all the meteors appear to originate from) will be up to the north east around midnight (with the shower peak around 00:00 UTC / 01:00 BST) but meteors can appear anywhere so get outside and look up!
Saturday 16th August - To help identify the summer constellations you can see throughout the month, below we’ve provided guide images for both southern and northern skies in August (shown as seen at 00:00 UTC (01:00 BST) on 16th August)
Sunday 17th August - This afternoon our Moon will be at Last Quarter phase
Saturday 23rd August - The waning crescent Moon lies just to the right of Venus and Jupiter if you’re up early this morning. If your eastern horizon is flat enough this could provide some great images for all you amateur photographers out there!
Sunday 24th August – Today the Moon is at Apogee at a distance of 406,520 km (252,600 miles) the furthest point out in its orbit around the Earth this month
Monday 25th August - The New Moon rises with (and sets just after) the Sun today, so now is a good time to observe deep sky objects when the skies are unaffected by moonlight
Sunday 31st August - Saturn and the Moon are in conjunction this evening, and offer a great photo opportunity to anyone with a telescope and camera mount!
If we can find a dark enough location with a good western horizon we’ll definitely be aiming to get some images of this, so keep watching the blog as we’re getting the itch to get out there again…
As usual, if you take any photos throughout August you’d like to show us, please tweet them to us using the link below! We’d love to see your efforts and we’ll re-tweet them to your fellow sky-watchers!
Planets visible this month:
Remember, it can take your eyes up to 20 minutes to become properly dark adapted, and anything up to an hour for a telescope to reach ambient temperature outside (to ensure the best image), so give yourself plenty of time to get set up!
To make it easier to find this list of astronomical happenings you can also locate it in the “Monthly Guide” section in the menu bar to the right. Handy! :)
Guide images created with Stellarium