2 Moon at apogee (251,671 miles from Earth)
3 Moon passes Saturn
5 Moon passes Pluto
7 Full Moon – “Sturgeon Moon” – undergoes a partial eclipse visible from Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia
9 Moon passes Neptune
13 Moon passes Uranus
14 Last Quarter
16 Moon passes Aldebaran
18 Moon at perigee (227,497 miles from Earth)
19 Moon passes Venus
21 New Moon causes a total solar eclipse visible from parts of North America. A partial eclipse is visible from most of our continent.
22 Moon passes Mercury
29 First Quarter
30 Moon, at apogee (251,226 miles from Earth), passes Saturn
NEWS OF THE WORLD
Mercury (mag. 0.9) starts August in the evening sky, a challenge to spot as it hovers only 6° above the horizon. Our innermost planet then dips into the solar glare, reaching inferior conjunction on the 26th and reappearing in the morning sky next month.
Jupiter (mag.-1.9) still appears in the evening sky, in Virgo, slowly approaching its brightest star, Spica, as the month goes on. Our largest planet sets around 11 PM at the beginning of August and about 9 PM by the end. Next comes Saturn (mag. 0.3) in Ophiuchus, displaying its rings at a wide 27°. It rises and sets about 3 hours after Jupiter.
Telescope object Neptune (mag. 7.8), in Aquarius, rises around 8 PM as it approaches its opposition next month. Binocular object Uranus (mag.5.8) follows two hours later, in Pisces.
The morning hours still belong to Venus (mag.-4.0), which moves from Gemini to Cancer and ends August next to M44, the Beehive Cluster.
Mars is still hiding on the far side of the Sun. Since it’s in conjunction with the New Moon on the 21st, it may appear briefly during the total phase of the solar eclipse, but won’t show up in the pre-dawn sky until next month.
The Perseid Meteor Shower peaks on the morning of August 12, unfortunately coinciding with a waning gibbous Moon that will wash out a lot of the meteors. You may still see 15-30 per hour (especially if you can block out the Moon with a building or tree) around the constellation Perseus high in the southeast. This shower is active from July 17 to August 24, so keep looking up if you’re out late, especially if you’re vacationing in the country.
Lammas Day (August 1) marks the midpoint between the Summer Solstice and the Autumnal Equinox.