August 2021 Astronomical Highlights
The Visible Planets
Mercury is at superior conjunction on August 1 and will not be visible this month from our northern latitude. For southern hemisphere observers, Mercury will appear back in their western sky after sunset in the second week of August.
Venus continues to shine low in the western sky after sunset, but it may be difficult to see from our northerly latitude as it is so near the western horizon at sunset. Southern hemisphere observers will get a much better view as Venus will appear much higher in the sky from their perspective.
Mars is not visible this month from our latitude as it sets along the western horizon shortly after the Sun.
Jupiter is now rising in the east-southeast sky shortly after sunset and is seen in the southwestern sky by sunrise. Jupiter is at its point of opposition on August 19 and will be seen all night long, from sunset to sunrise, at that time. Jupiter begins the month in the constellation of Aquarius, the water bearer, but moves into the constellation of Capricornus, the sea goat, around August 18 as it retrogrades westwarda. This is a great time to view Jupiter through a telescope!
Saturn is seen low above the east-southeastern horizon at sunset and is visible all night long, moving in a shallow arc along the southern horizon. Saturn is at its point of opposition on August 2. On August 21, look for Saturn just to the west of the waxing gibbous Moon. Saturn remains in the constellation of Capricornus, the sea goat, this month. Saturn will also be one of the highlights of evening observing, along with Jupiter, in our summer night sky. Now is the time to use a telescope to view the beautiful, majestic rings of Saturn!
August 8 New Moon
August 15 First Quarter Moon
August 22 Full Moon (The Sturgeon Moon)
August 30 Last Quarter Moon
International Space Station (ISS) Observable Passes
During most of the month of August there will be no visible passes of the ISS from our location. Visible evening passes of the ISS will begin again around August 26. Check the website http://www.heavens-above.com for viewing times for your location.
August 2 Saturn at opposition
August 2 Civic holiday, Heritage Day
August 8 The European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter makes second Venus flyby.
August 4-9 Saskatchewan Summer Star Party, Cypress Hills, SK. Details can be found here: https://sssp.saskatoon.rasc.ca/
August 10 Look along the western horizon to see the slim waxing crescent Moon near the planet Venus.
August 11/12/13 The summer’s best meteor shower, the Perseids, peak over the evening from August 12 to the 13. The waxing crescent Moon’s light will interfere a bit with viewing this meteor shower early in the evening on August 12 and 13, but after it sets, we should have a nice dark sky to view the show. The anticipated zenith hourly rate from a dark site is about 90 meteors per hour.
An outburst of Perseid meteors lights up the sky in August 2009 in this time-lapse image. (Courtesy NASA / JPL)
August 7-15 Mount Kobau Star Party near Osoyoos, BC. Preregistration required to limit attendees due to COVID-19 restrictions. See https://www.mksp.ca/ for details.
August 19 Jupiter at opposition
August 25 It was 32 years ago today that Voyager 2 arrived at Neptune.