What's to see in the night sky in August?

August, 2003

This chart represents the sky as it looks at around 10 PM local time. Some adjustment should be made for longitude, but it shouldn't be much. Right click on the chart, select "Save As" and save the image. You can then print this chart from a photo application, like Print Shop Pro, hold it in front of you with the direction you are facing at the bottom. Then, raise it above your head and you should be able to find your way around from there.



Moon phases

New-8/9_____First Quarter-8/16____Full-8/24____Last Quarter-8/2


Mercury is reaches greatest elongation on 8/7 and is visible low in the west after sunset.
Venus is high in the west and rising toward greatest elongation on 8/20, passing close to Saturn on 8/10 and close to Mars on 8/23.
Mars is visible all month in the south and is closest to Venus on 8/23.
Jupiter rises earlier as the month goes on. Transiting the meridian at 9:36 pm on 8/1 and an hour earlier on 8/16.
Saturn will be visible all month, low in the west.

Meteor showers
The Kappa Cygnids and Iota Aquarids are active this month, if you could call it that. They are barely detectable above the background at only 3 ZHR.
But the Alpha Aurigids towards the end of the month show about 10 ZHR, peaking on the 31st.
The Perseids peak on the 12th. Again, right on the new Moon, so it could be great seeing these fastest of meteors. This shower has given some spectacular displays in the past. Maybe watch for them the week before they peak.

Deep Sky Objects (DSO's)
Messier Objects

Globs M55, 54, 69, 70, 22, 28 and almost 75, (you can almost see it, that is. ;-)), all in Sagittarius, plus M71 in Sagitta, plus M56 in Lyra. And you thought the only thing in Lyra was the ring, huh?
Open clusters are almost too numerous to mention, but M11, 18, 21, 26, 23, 24 and 25 are all great. Maybe hard to isolate, what with the center of the galaxy right there, but still... For some reason, some of the best nebulae in the sky are classified as "clusters, with nebulosity". Namely, M8, 20, 16, 17 and 18. These are AKA the Lagoon, the Trifid, the Eagle, and the Swan, respectively. Although the clusters are wonderful, I'm not sure they compare with the wonder of the nebulae that spawned them. Must be politics.
This particular region of sky holds two of the most spectacular planetary nebulae in the sky. M27, the Dumb bell and M57, the Ring. What surprises me though, is the amazing difference in size between the two. The ring is bright yes, but tiny when compared to the Dumb bell. (Check out the Messier page to see the difference for yourself.)
Galaxies-You may say there are none, but all you have to do is look up-our own Milky Way is the largest visible edge-on in the sky! See the dust lanes, HII regions, globulars and everything. You just have to adjust your perspective a bit and think on a larger scale. :-)

Named DSO's

The blinking nebula in Cygnus, (Ngc 6826), is cool in a telescope. Look directly at it, and it seems to shrink. Look to the side and it expands-a great illustration of "averted vision". The Cat's Eye nebula (Ngc 6543), is close by in Draco, almost due north of Vega. Both are great planetaries.

This doesn't really have a name, but I think it's a really nice area, if you have low horizons. Look in Sagittarius for the Teapot asterism. Below the handle is a group of stars that form a curve starting to the east, then south, then back west. They're at the same altitude as the "stinger" stars in Scorpius. This is the consellation Corona Australis. The top two stars hold a number of interesting objects, all within a couple degrees. The first is a globular cluster, NGC 6723. Just to the east and south, and almost in the same field of view is a double star, HR 7169 and HR 7170, they are almost the same color and brightness. To the north of these is a small cluster of stars, with lots of nebulosity associated. It should appear as kind of a fog. If you have a rich field telescope or high power binoculars, you may pick up the dark nebula in this area too, BE 157.

This whole region of sky is perfect for just sitting back on a lawn chair and surfing with binoculars. I highly recommend it! Enjoy. And let me know what you see!

Here's the link to SEDS as promised.

January's page February's page March's's page April's page May's page June's page
July's page August's page September's page October's page November's page December's page

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Revised: 7/20/10