Here’s how to locate a brightest planets in August’s night sky.
The bright, naked-eye planets are going to be concerned in a series of opposite gatherings, all occurring in a eve sky this month. If we have a transparent western setting with no obstructions, you’ll perspective Venus early this month shortly after sunset. On Aug. 4, use binoculars to collect adult a razor-thin crescent moon usually to a left of Mercury, with Venus to their reduce right and Jupiter aloft and to a left of all of them. Meanwhile, over in a south-southwest, Mars, Saturn and a red star Antares will strive for your courtesy during a final week of August. And a astronomical cherry on tip of this month’s astronomical sundae comes on Aug. 27, when Venus and Jupiter come together for their tightest and until a year 2065.
In a schedule, remember that when measuring a bony subdivision between dual astronomical objects, your clenched fist hold during arm’s length measures roughly 10 degrees. In this article, we will tell we some of a best planet-viewing times as good as where to demeanour to see them. [August 2016 Skywatching – Planets, Constellations and Perseid Meteors (Video)]
Mercury A half hour after eve on Aug. 4, demeanour low to a western horizon, where bright, zero-magnitude Mercury will be 1 1/2 degrees to a moon’s top right. Mercury will strech a farthest indicate from a sun, called biggest elongation (27 degrees),this year on Aug.16.
Mercury is about 6 degrees south of a object in declination, so as a result, from places south of embodiment 40 degrees north, including a southern United States, this hilly small universe will be many some-more manifest as an eve star. It will set even after after nightfall and will seem scarcely twice as high above a setting during eve as seen from Miami as it does from New York City. Conversely, from impassioned northern states, it will be seen feeble or not during all. (This will be Mercury’s lowest, lowest eve appearance for people situated during latitudes 40 degrees north ; a world will be placed reduction than 2 degrees above a western setting in midtwilight.)
Venus is even reduce during nightfall than Jupiter for many of August. However, Venus is scarcely 8 times brighter than a gas hulk and is operative a proceed solemnly ceiling as a weeks go by. Search for Venus nearby to a west-northwest setting about 20 mins after sunset. Venus and Jupiter pierce 1 grade closer together any eve until reaching a really tighten and on Aug. 27, when they’ll be reduction than 0.1 degrees detached as seen from a eastern half of North America. This eventuality will be value a special outing with binoculars to some place autocratic a scenic perspective of a western horizon.
Mars slides 0.9 degrees south of a 2nd-magnitude star Delta Scorpii on Aug. 9; this is a center star in a straight quarrel of 3 imprinting a Scorpion’s head. As a sky darkens on Aug. 11, check out a south-southwest sky for a vast triangle shaped by a waxing gibbous moon and a planets Mars (orange yellow, bulk -0.6) and Saturn (yellowish, bulk +0.3). On Aug. 23, Mars will seem 1.8 degrees north of a ruddy, 1st-magnitude star Antares yet will seem some-more than 3 times brighter than a “rival.” The subsequent night, Mars will slip south of Saturn.
Jupiter is now quick vacating into a west after sundown. On a eve of Aug. 5, a outrageous world will set about 1 3/4 hours after a sun, positioned a integrate of degrees to a top left of a still-narrow crescent moon. Late in a month, on a eve of Aug. 27, a dual brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter, will have an intensely tighten conjunction. It would be inestimable to director out a plcae that provides we with a transparent and unrestricted perspective of a western sky. At about 30 mins after nightfall in splendid twilight, a dual planets will distortion usually 5 degrees above a western horizon; brighter Venus will gleam usually above Jupiter.
From eastern North America, a dual planets seem closest — apart by usually 4 arc mins or 0.066 degrees (less than one-eighth a apparent breadth of a moon) — for a integrate of hours before to sunset. That breadth increases slightly, to 5 arc minutes, by sunset. By a time a object sets for western North America, a subdivision will have widened to 11 arc mins or 0.183 degrees. Try to see this if we can, given it is really sparse that these dual planets proceed any other as closely as this. In fact, a subsequent event will come on Nov. 22, 2065! On that date, a dual planets will seem to indeed combine into a singular indicate of light.
Saturn looms in a south-southwest as a solid golden “star” when night begins. On Aug. 11, this dear ringed world shines 6.2 degrees above red Antares, a brightest star in Scorpius. Saturn itself is in a large, low constellation Ophiuchus, where a world will sojourn as it dives into a sun’s glisten in early November. Two months have upheld given Saturn’s opposition, when a Earth was between that world and a sun. Now, with a stretch between a dual worlds increasing, Saturn is gradually fading.
Saturn continues to be a telescopic favorite, however. Even a 2-inch telescope will exhibit the ringed world’s largest moon, puzzling Titan. This 9th-magnitude physique is located about 4 ring-lengths west of Saturn on Aug. 3 and 19, and an equal stretch easterly on Aug. 11 and 27. On Aug. 13, Saturn resumes a direct, east motion. Thus ends 4 1/2 months of “backtracking” opposite a stars, an outcome caused by Earth’s faster suit around a sun. It’s as yet Earth has been racing along a highway in a fast, neat sports car. Compared to this planet, Saturn is a beat-up, slow-moving truck. As Earth speeds past a counterpart, a slower automobile seems to pierce back opposite a apart landscape.
Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest techer during New York’s Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for Natural History magazine, a Farmer’s Almanac and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist for News 12 Westchester, New York. Follow Space.com @Spacedotcom. We’re also on Facebook and Google+. Original essay on Space.com.