Strap yourself in for the latest edition of our monthly posts, listing upcoming Astronomy events for August! The British skies have been particularly cloudy of late, which means our telescopes are sat under a layer of soft downy dust, so we’re hoping for clearer (and warmer) nights in August!
Monday 1st August – With the Moon still virtually absent after the new Moon of 30th July, it’s a prime time to spot Comet C/2009 P1 Garradd as it starts its pass of globular cluster M15 over the next couple of nights (it will be visible all month in the constellation Pegasus). The comet will reach a maximum solar elongation of 149 degrees on 8th August. Click here for related NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day (from 27th July)
Tuesday 2nd August – Moon at Perigee (365,760 km)
Thursday 4th August – The planet-esque asteroid Vesta might just be visible to the naked eye if your skies are dark enough (certainly with binoculars). At around mag 5.48 at its brightest (the lower the mag the brighter the object appears from Earth), it will stay in Capricornus throughout August, following the diagonal line of the brightest stars at the bottom of the constellation (as the month progresses)
Vesta in the constellation Capricornus - Southern sky 4th August 2011 (00:00 GMT/ 01:00 BST) - Credit: Stellarium/Sky-Watching (Click to enlarge)
Sunday 7th August – Jupiter (in Aries) is the bright object high up in the east by midnight. For those up later Mars rises at 01:00 GMT (02:00 BST ), drawing a line to Jupiter straight through the middle of the constellation Taurus
Friday 12th August – The Perseid meteor shower starts 2 evenings of peak activity tonight, although tomorrow’s Full Moon will wash out a lot of the weaker meteors. With an expected ZHR (Zenithal Hourly Rate) of 100 however you should still be able to catch the brighter ones as they blaze a trail across the sky
Perseid Meteor Radiant guide - Northern sky 13th August 2011 (21:00 GMT/22:00 BST) - Credit: Stellarium/Sky-Watching (Click to enlarge)
Saturday 13th August – The Full Moon this evening is also known as the Barley Moon and apparently tells of the ripening crops of summer! Second peak night for the Perseid meteor shower, look to the north towards the W shaped constellation of Cassiopeia
Tuesday 16th August – Venus in superior conjunction, meaning the planet is too close to the Sun to see this month
Wednesday 17th August – Mercury is in inferior conjunction, so along with Venus is lost in the daylight
Our first CCD capture of Saturn, we'll have to wait a while until we can try again! - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn (Click to enlarge)
Thursday 18th August – Moon at Apogee (405,160 km). Saturn will soon be leaving our night skies, but should still just be visible low down in the west soon after sunset
Monday 22nd August – Neptune at opposition in Aquarius, the planet will be visible to the south east rising at dusk, being followed across the sky by Uranus, appearing over the eastern horizon after 20:00 GMT (21:00 BST)
The Moon flanked by Mars and Jupiter - Eastern sky 23rd August 2011 (02:00 GMT/03:00 BST) - Credit: Stellarium/Sky-Watching (Click to enlarge)
Tuesday 23rd August – Early risers (or those up late!) will be able to see the dawn Moon in the Taurus constellation flanked by Mars and Jupiter above the eastern horizon. Orion is also making a welcome re-appearce to our skies, with the red supergiant Betelgeuse rising about the same time as Mars
Monday 29th August – New Moon. If your skies are clear tonight the absence of moon glare make observing deep sky objects (like nebulae and galaxies) easier
Tuesday 30th August – Moon at Perigee (360,860 km)
Should the weather allow we’re targeting Comet Garradd and maybe the Perseid meteor shower for imaging this month. We’ve been particularly unlucky with regards to night clouds in recent weeks, so surely it’s about time we got a break!
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!
We recently added the “Monthly Guide” section in the menu bar to the right (where this guide will appear), so next time you visit you can find it again easily!
Guide images created with Stellarium
Astronomy Events – July 2011
Astronomy Events – June 2011
Astronomy Events – May 2011