This is your monthly guide to observing the planets, celestial events, moon phases, this day in space history, NASA launches, and other astronomy resources.
Observing The Planets:
- Mercury (evening planet, magnitude 0.0) is visible low in the west at dusk through August 15.
- Venus (evening planet, magnitude -3.8) is visible low in the west at dusk all month.
- Mars (evening planet, magnitude -0.7, in Scorpius) is visible in the south at dusk and sets before midnight.
- Jupiter (evening planet, magnitude -1.7, in Virgo) is visible low in the west at dusk and sets early evening.
- Saturn (evening planet, magnitude +0.4, in Ophiuchus) is visible in the south at dusk and sets after midnight.
- Uranus (late evening/early morning planet, magnitude +5.8, in Pisces) is visible after midnight in the east and southeast.
- Neptune (late evening/early morning , magnitude +7.8, in Aquarius) is visible after midnight in the east and southeast.
Understanding Visual Magnitude: Magnitude is a scale for measuring the brightness of objects in the sky. The dimmer the object the greater the number. The brightest objects generally receive negative numbers. Venus can be as bright as magnitude -4.9, the full moon is generally -12.7 and the sun is -26.8.
Moon Phases & Celestial Events:
- August 2: New Moon at 3:44 pm CDT.
- August 4: Moon less than 2° from Mercury.
- August 5: Moon about 2° from Jupiter.
- August 9: Moon at apogee (farthest from Earth) at 7 pm CDT at a distance 404,262 km and an angular size of 29.6′.
- August 10: First Quarter Moon at 1:21 pm CDT.
- August 11: Perseid meteor shower maximum. Visible from July 17 to August 24. About 50 to 100 meteors per hour. The best viewing conditions will occur after midnight.
- August 11: Moon 6° from Saturn with Mars below.
- August 11: Moon near Mars at 9 pm CDT.
- August 18: Full Moon at 4:27 am CDT.
- August 21: Moon at perigee (closest to Earth) at 8 pm CDT at a distance of 367,050 km and an angular size of 32.6′.
- August 24: Last Quarter Moon at 10:41 pm CDT.
- August 27: Venus and Jupiter less than 0.3° from each other at dusk.
The following missions are scheduled for August:
Want to learn more about what goes on each week on the International Space Station? Watch NASA’s weekly Space to Ground video log.
This Day In Space History:
- August 10, 1990: Magellan arrives at Venus.
- August 11, 1877: Deimos, moon of Mars was discovered by Asaph Hall.
- August 17, 1877: Phobos, moon of Mars was discovered by Asaph Hall.
- August 24, 1989: Voyager 2 flies past Neptune.
- August 25, 1981: Voyager 2 flies past Saturn.
- August 25, 2003: The Spitzer Space Telescope was launched.
- August 28, 1789: Enceladus, moon of Saturn discovered by William Herschel.
- Satellite flybys: Want to know when satellites, the International Space Station, and the Hubble Space Telescope will fly over your location? Enter your zip code here to get a personal calendar.
- Our Current Solar System: Find out the current distances and locations of the solar system planets from the Earth and sun right now.
- The Stargazer’s Guide to the Night Sky
- Sighting the International Space Station (ISS)
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