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Astronomical Events for August

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 Evening Planets:
                Mercury makes a very poor appearance in the SW sky at Dusk. The planet will be next to impossible to see at all. The planet will be in the glare of Sunset from the 20th of August to the end of the month. This is Mercury’s worst evening showing of the year.

                Mars and Saturn can be seen low in the SW at Dusk. Each night, Mars will be moving closer to Saturn from the right. Mars will be below Saturn on the 23-26 August. At that time both planets will be the same brightness. After that Mars will start to move away from Saturn. Saturn is the only planet that still makes a fair telescope object.

Morning Planets:

                Things go from bad to worse for Venus. The planet moves even closer to the bright glow of the oncoming Sunrise. The planet remains dim and stuck in the bright Twilight of the ENE sky. Venus barely rises about 1 hour before Sunrise. The planet’s terrible position will not help the visibility of the conjunction with Jupiter.

                Jupiter should just be barely visible to the lower left of Venus just before Sunrise. After 10 August, the planet moves closer to Venus. The planets are closest on 18 August with Jupiter just slightly above Venus. Unfortunately this conjunction is very unfavorable for our viewing area and will be hard to see. The extremely low altitude and the bright glow of oncoming Sunrise will spoil this conjunction. After the conjunction, Jupiter will move off rapidly to the upper right of Venus. Jupiter is climbing to a better position while Venus is sinking to a worst position.

2 Aug Moon between Mars and bright star Spica, Dusk

3 Aug Moon between Mars and Saturn, Dusk

10 Aug Full Moon, Largest of Year

23-26 Aug Mars below Saturn, Dusk

23 Aug Crescent Moon, Jupiter, and Venus form a triangle, Dawn (Not Favorable Showing for our area)

29 Aug Crescent Moon upper left of bright star Spica, Dusk

31 Aug Thick Crescent Moon, Saturn, and Mars form a triangle, Dusk

Perseids Meteor Shower:

                The annual August major meteor shower, the Perseids, will be ruined by the almost Full Moon. On the peak night of the meteor shower, 12-13 August; the 2 days past Full Moon will ruin the show. If you remember, it was the same situation for the 2011 Perseids Meteor Shower. The 2011 shower was also washed out by an almost Full Moon.

August’s Full Moon:

                This year the August Full Moon which is sometimes called “the Full Sturgeon Moon”, will be the largest of the year. The exact time of the largest and closest Full Moon of the year will be at 2:09 pm EDT on 10 August. When the Full Moon rises on the evening of the 10th of August, it will appear larger than any other Full Moon for the year.

                The Full Moon also appears to be larger when near the horizon. This apparent optical illusion is called “the Full Moon Illusion”. This effect is simply caused by a trick of the brain.

 Folks still enjoy watching the rise of the Full Moon. This month’s Full Moon rise should be quite an eye pleaser and should produce some pleasant landscapes.

Written by

Gary T. Nowak

Vermont Astronomical Society

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