Go Stargazing! August Edition


August 2, 2011
173 Views

Saturn is the only planet visible to the naked eye at night this August.  Face southwest at dusk and you’ll see Saturn near a star of similar brightness—Spica in Virgo.  Saturn is a bit to the right of Spica as you face southwest.   The ringed planet remains well placed for evening viewing and remains in the night sky until late September 2011.

Hubble Images Suggest Rogue Asteroid Smacked Jupiter
Creative Commons License photo credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video

Mars and Jupiter are in the pre-dawn sky.  Jupiter, set against a background of very dim stars, dominates the southeastern pre-dawn sky and is due south at dawn by the end of the month.  Mars is dimmer and much lower in the east northeast.  It has fully emerged from the sun’s glare and will brighten slightly each morning. Venus is now out of sight.  Superior conjunction (alignment on the far side of the sun) is on August 16.

The Big Dipper is to the left of the North Star, with its handle pointing up.  From that handle, you can ‘arc to Arcturus’ and then ‘speed on to Spica’; those stars are in the west and southwest at dusk.  Antares, brightest star of Scorpius, the Scorpion, is in the south, with the ‘teapot’ of Sagittarius to its left.  Meanwhile, the Summer Triangle is approaching the zenith.  The stars of summer now dominate the evening sky.  In late evening, you can watch the Great Square of Pegasus rise in the east.

Moon Phases in August 2011:

1st Quarter                     August 6, 6:08 a.m.

Full Moon                       August 13, 1:57 p.m.

Last Quarter                  August 21, 4:56 a.m.

New Moon                      August 28, 10:03 p.m.

The annual Perseid Meteor Shower peaks this year on Saturday morning, August 13.  Unfortunately, the moon (full on the 13th) hides all but the very brightest meteors and thus spoils the show.  If you want to see just how many Perseids can outshine the moonlight, the best hours are from roughly 2 a.m. to dawn.

James
Authored By James Wooten

James is the Planetarium Astronomer at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. He teaches students every school morning in the planetarium, and also answers astronomy questions from the public.

4 responses to “Go Stargazing! August Edition”

  1. Angela Coverson says:

    Hello,

    I have two questions.

    1. Can you define light years?

    2. How many galaxies are in the universe?

  2. James Wooten says:

    1. One light year is the distance that light travels in a year. The speed of light is 3 X 10 ^8 (300 million) meters/second, so light travels about 9.5 trillion kilometers (about 6 trillion miles) in a year.

    2. There are so many galaxies that we have no reliable number. For one thing, the observable universe (the part we can see) is only part of the entire universe. According to our best estimates, there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe.

  3. Catherine Kilzer says:

    Hi Mr. Wooten,
    I’m looking for the September night sky info. Have you posted it yet?
    I share this info with the teachers and students on my campus.
    Thanks,
    C.Kilzer
    Science Specialist
    Ashford Primary

  4. Erin B says:

    Hi Ms. Kilzer – James has posted the September edition, here: http://blog.hmns.org/?p=10122

    He’s also done a review of the latest research into the possibility of liquid water on Mars: http://blog.hmns.org/?p=9981

    Thanks for sharing this information with your colleagues and students!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Become An HMNS Member

With a membership level for everyone; Don't just read about it, see it.

View All Membership Levels

Editor's Picks My Favorite Part About Camp! Unwrapping HMNS: An Interview With A Gladiator May Pixel Party Recap: What Happens When You Let A Bunch Of Expert Photographers Loose At HMNS? May Educator How-To: Make a Roman Mosaic What’s The Splatter? The Science Behind Bug Guts on your Windshield. 5 Of The Rarest Objects On Display At HMNS
Follow And Subscribe

Equally Interesting Posts




HMNS at Hermann Park

5555 Hermann Park Dr.
Houston,Texas 77030
(713) 639-4629


Get Directions Offering varies by location
HMNS at Sugar Land

13016 University Blvd.
Sugar Land, Texas 77479
(281) 313-2277


Get Directions Offering varies by location
George Observatory

21901 FM 762 Rd.
Needville, Texas 77461
(281) 242-3055

Hours
Tuesday - Saturday By Reservation
Saturdays 3:00PM - 10:00PM
Saturdays (DST) 3:00PM - 11:00PM
DST = Daylight Savings Time.
Please call for holiday hours. Entry to Brazos Bend State Park ends at 9:30 p.m. daily
Get Directions Offering varies by location

Stay in the know. Join our mailing list.