By 2018-08-02 InScience & Technology

The August 2018 Night Sky

Welcome to the August night sky. This month is great for seeing planets in the early evening.

Over in the west, the planet Venus is still visible high and bright in the constellation of Virgo, and now Venus is at its maximum elongation from the Sun, so it can be seen in a truly dark sky. At these times Venus can be bright enough even to cast a shadow. The thin crescent Moon will near to Venus on the evening of the 14th.

During August the four brightest planets are arranged in a line from the western horizon over to the eastern horizon. Starting with Venus and looking towards the left the gas giant planet Jupiter can be seen in the constellation of Libra, and the Moon will be closed to it on the 17th. The next planet towards the left is the ringed planet Saturn in the constellation of Sagittarius, and during early August evenings Saturn will be seen approximately toward the south. The rings are truly spectacular in any small telescope, and the Moon will be close to this planet on the 20th.

Looking a little more to the east (left) the red planet Mars will be seen in the constellation of Capricorn, and on the 23rd the nearly full Moon will be close. Mars has now just passed opposition and as I suggested last month it is experiencing a planet wide dust-storm. This will make it difficult to see any details on its surface even with the large telescope. When these dust-storm conditions exist, it could make Mars visibly brighter and slightly more reddish in colour than normal.

The night of the 12th August is the peak of the traditionally good Perseids meteor shower, the Moon is out of the sky at this time, so it should be nice and dark to see the faintest meteors. As with any meteor shower the best time to see one would be after midnight and with luck and patience you should see a bright meteor every few minutes.

The Moon is at last quarter on the 4th, new on the 11th first quarter on the 18th and full on the 26th of August.

By Clive Jackson

Clive Jackson is the Director of the Camera Obscura (next to the Castle in Tavira), specialising in education and public outreach.
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To see the August Sky Map click on the pdf link below

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