Astronomy Info & Events: August

Moon Phases

August 4: Last Quarter Moon

August 11: New Moon

August 18: First Quarter Moon

August 26: Full Moon (the Sturgeon Moon)

Special Events

Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner is visible through a telescope and binoculars this month and moves from the constellation of Cassiopeia into the constellation of Camelopardalis during the month. This comet may become a naked eye comet by September at magnitude 6.

International Space Station (ISS) Observable Passes

ISS visible passes are only seen on August 1, 2 and 4 with the passes occurring during the late evening hours Check out the website or by using satellite tracking smart phone apps like Sputnik to find out the exact times when the ISS will be visible from your location. The ISS will be seen as a bright moving point of light, moving in an arc from the west to the east during its visible passes.

August 4-12: Mount Kobau Star Party, Osoyoos, BC

August 8-13: Saskatchewan Summer Star Party at Cypress Hills

August 11-13: Perseid meteor shower peaks! The summer's best meteor shower is greeted by superb conditions with a dark sky as the Moon is just a very thin waxing crescent this year!

August 17: Venus at greatest eastern elongation (46 degrees).

August 26: Mercury at greatest western elongation (18 degrees). Best morning appearance by Mercury this year for norther latitudes.

Comet 38P/Stephan-Oterma at perihelion and might be visible in backyard telescopes.

August 28: Mars is stationary and stops retrograde motion.

Visible Planets

Mercury pops out of the glare of the rising Sun about August 17 and then can be seen low in the east-northeastern sky before sunrise for the rest of the month. It will be at its furthest angular separation from the Sun (greatest western elongation of 18 degrees) on August 26. This is one of the better viewings of Mercury this year for observers in Canada.

Venus is still seen shining brightly above the western horizon for most of the month, but by the end of the month, begins to disappear into the glare of the setting Sun becoming difficult to see. The waxing crescent Moon will be near Venus after sunset on August 13 and 14.

Mars continues to shine brightly this month through the night, having just passed opposition on July 26, making it an easy bright target to find. Mars rises in the southeastern sky at sunset, is seen due south by midnight and sets to the southwest by sunrise. Mars is found in the constellation of Capricornus, the sea goat, for the entire month where you can see Mars continue its retrograde motion until August 28. Mars will still be a highlight of telescopic observing this month with views of the polar caps and dark and light features on Mars being visible. Visit the RASC Observatory at TELUS World of Science - Edmonton to see Mars this month!

Jupiter is found within the constellation of Libra, the scales, and can be seen low in the southwestern sky at sunset. It then sets along the west-southwest horizon before midnight. On the nights of August 16 and 17 the waxing crescent Moon will pass just above Jupiter.

Saturn is seen in the southern sky at sunset this month. Saturn continues to be situated in the constellation of Sagittarius, the archer, and can be located at the midpoint of a line joining the bright planet Jupiter in the southwest to the now bright planet Mars in the southeast. On August 20 and 21, look for the waxing gibbous Moon near and above the planet Saturn.