Answers about the Night Sky

Answers about the Night Sky

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What’s up in Tonight’s Sky

By Garry Beckstrom

 

August 2017

HERE’S WHAT TO LOOK FOR THIS MONTH

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Click HERE to Download our basic EVENING Star Map for August 2017 (pdf)

August2017StarMap copy(For star maps to print properly, download pdf and save to your computer, then print from there.)

Download our star maps to help you find your way around the sky.
Our basic star maps show the planets and major star patterns or constellations visible in the evening and morning skies this month, without faint background stars. This makes it easier to pick out the brighter patterns in the real sky. Hold the map over your head with “North” on the map facing the direction north. The middle of the circular map (marked “zenith”) is the point directly over your head. The edges of the circular map mark the horizon all around you. Find one of the bright constellation patterns, ignoring fainter stars you might see in between. You can then jump from constellation to constellation, finding your way around the sky. It helps to use a dim, red flashlight so that you can see both the map and the sky together.

 

Click HERE to Download our basic MORNING Star Map for August 2017 (pdf)

August2017MorningStarMap copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR THIS MONTH

All descriptions below are for mid-northern latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere. EST is Eastern Standard Time in North America.
EDT is Eastern Daylight Time in North America.

Below you’ll find a section about what to see in the EVENING SKY this month, followed by a section about what to see in the early MORNING SKY before dawn.

Below those sections you’ll find a list of dates this month where we point out specific things to look for on those days, along with other interesting information.

We hope you’ll find our night sky information fun and easy to use. Happy Stargazing!

 

 

THE EVENING SKY IN AUGUST

The two largest planets in our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, dominate the evening sky this month. They’re easy to see.

 

Jupiter is very bright in the southwest, the first object to become visible as the sky darkens. As it gets even darker the bright star Spica appears nearby. During the month Jupiter will get closer to Spica. Check it out early before Jupiter sets..

Looking west-southwest about 30-minutes after sunset in the middle of the month. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
Aug15JupiterSpica copy

 

As Jupiter dips low in the west, Saturn rides as high in the south as it will get.

Looking south about an hour after sunset in the middle of the month. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
Aug15SaturnAntares copy

A small telescope will even show the beautiful rings around Saturn!
Aug15Saturn copy

 

 

If you find yourself away from artificial lights in the evening this month, you’ll be able to see the Milky Way quite bright, especially toward the south-southwest.

Look below at the picture. It shows the entire sky in the same way as our basic star maps. The middle of the circle is directly overhead and the edge of the circle shows the horizon all around you. The Milky Way looks like a cloud that begins low in the south-southwest and stretches toward the northeast, getting dimmer as it goes.

Our Evening Star Map (Click HERE to Download our basic EVENING Star Map for August 2017 (pdf)) does not show the Milky Way in order to keep the map simple, and because most people are using the star map in lighted areas where the Milky Way is not visible.

This is the sky around midnight at mid-month. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
Aug15FullSky copy

Here’s the same scene as above, but with some labels. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
Aug15FullSkyLabels copy

 


 

 

 

THE MORNING SKY IN AUGUST

This is the month for the Great American Eclipse of the Sun! The eclipse will occur during the day of August 21. For everything you need to know about the eclipse and how to see it, go to http://www.beckstromobservatory.com/solar-eclipse-aug-21-2017/

The Perseid Meteor Shower peaks on the 12th this month. See August 12 below for more.

 

The planet Venus dazzles in the eastern predawn sky this month. Venus is far brighter than anything else visible in the morning sky besides the Moon.

Looking east an hour before sunrise on August 15. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
Aug15Venus copy

 

The three stars of the Summer TriangleVega, Deneb and Altair – are now in the western sky before dawn. High in the sky, you’ll find the Great Square. Neither of these star patterns are “official constellations,” but they both serve as landmarks to help you find your way around the sky.

Use our Morning Star Map (Click HERE to Download our basic MORNING Star Map for August 2017 (pdf)) to help you find these and other patterns in the morning sky.

Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
Aug15SquareAndTriangle copy

 

 

 

 

SCROLL DOWN TO SEE WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON SOME SPECIFIC DAYS THIS MONTH

BE SURE TO CLICK ON EACH SCENE BELOW FOR A FULL IMAGE.

 

August 1 EVENINGOver the next few days, the Moon will pass the beautiful ringed planet Saturn. This will make it easy to find the planet

Looking south an hour after sunset. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
Aug1 copy

 

 

August 2 EVENING – Tonight Saturn is just to the lower left of the Moon.

Looking south an hour after sunset. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
Aug2 copy

 

 

August 3 EVENINGTonight Saturn is to the lower right of the Moon.

Looking south an hour after sunset. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
Aug3 copy

 

 

August 4 EVENINGThe Moon is now well past Saturn on its way around the Earth. See August 1-3 above to see the Moon’s motion from day to day.

Looking south an hour after sunset. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
Aug4 copy

 

 

August 7 EVENING – Full Moon occurs at 2:11 p.m. EDT. The Moon is now half way around the Earth in its orbit. The Earth is between the Moon and the Sun so we see the Moon fully lit.  We now see the Moon opposite the Sun in the sky, so as the Sun sets, the Moon rises.
full

If you live in Europe, Africa, Asia or Australia you’ll see a partial eclipse of the Moon tonight. About 25% of the Moon will pass through the edge of the Earth’s inner, dark shadow. The Moon enters the darkest part of the shadow at 17h22m UTC. Mid-eclipse is at 18h20m UTC. The eclipse ends at 19h19m UTC. UTC is Coordinated Universal Time. To determine how many hours your local time differs from UTC, go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_UTC_time_offsets

The map below shows who will see the partial eclipse of the Moon tonight.
LunarEclipse2 copy

As seen in the sky, the bottom part of the Moon will darken during the eclipse.
LunarEclipse1 copy

 

 

August 12 MORNINGThe Perseid Meteor Shower peaks today. Unfortunately, this will not be the best year for this reliable shower because the Moon will be in the sky and its light will block out many of the fainter meteors.

This means you may see 15-30 meteors per hour this year. Still, that’s worth seeing. The best time to look is during the early morning hours at which time the Earth is more directly moving into the meteor debris.

So, get out under the stars and enjoy the show!


meteor

 

August 14 EVENINGLast Quarter Moon occurs at 9:15 p.m. EDT. The Moon is three-quarters of the way around the Earth now. It appears half lit in the early morning sky; the lighted side always faces the Sun.
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August 16 MORNINGThe bright reddish star to the upper right of the Moon this morning is called Aldebaran. Aldebaran is known as the fiery eye of Taurus the Bull.

Watch over the next couple mornings as the Moon gets closer to the bright planet Venus.

Looking east-southeast an hour before sunrise. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
Aug16 copy

 

 

August 19 MORNINGA really pretty little crescent Moon is just below brilliant Venus this morning.

Looking east an hour before sunrise. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
Aug19 copy

 

 

August 21 SOLAR ECLIPSE DAYA total eclipse of the Sun will occur along a narrow path that stretches across the United States. All of the rest of North America will see varying degrees of a partial solar eclipse.

There is a huge difference between “experiencing” a total eclipse, with the changes in the environment, and just seeing a partial eclipse. A total solar eclipse is a rare, and for some, a once-in-a-lifetime event. If at all possible, you should try to travel to the narrow path where the total eclipse will occur.

For everything you need to know about the eclipse and how to see it, go to http://www.beckstromobservatory.com/solar-eclipse-aug-21-2017/

We wish everyone clear skies!
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August 24 EVENINGCheck out the pretty grouping of a little crescent Moon, the giant planet Jupiter, and the bright star Spica.

Looking west an hour after sunset. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
Aug24 copy

 

 

 

August 25 EVENINGTonight the Moon, Jupiter and Spica form an interesting triangle after sunset. See August 24 above.

Looking west an hour after sunset. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
Aug25 copy

 

 

August 29 MORNING – First Quarter Moon occurs at 4:13 a.m. EDT. The Moon is one quarter of the way around the Earth and appears half lit in the evening sky. The lit part is facing the Sun.
first

EVENINGThe Moon makes a second appearance with Saturn this month. Tonight with Saturn to the lower left of the Moon.

Looking south an hour after sunset. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
Aug29 copy

 

 

 

August 30 EVENINGThe Moon, Saturn and the bright star Antares form a line in the south this evening.

Looking south an hour after sunset. Be sure to click on the scene below for a full image.
Aug30 copy



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