Earth Sky News for August 12: Meteors, moon and planets

Meteors, moon and planets on August 12

Keep watching Mars and Saturn, even after the moon moves away. With the star Antares, these planets have made a prominent triangle on our sky’s dome for many months. But Mars is on the move now, in front of the star background. Mars is rapidly traveling eastward in the direction of Saturn and Antares. It’ll pass in between Saturn and Antares on or near August 24.

On August 24, Saturn and Mars to be in conjunction (north and south of one another on the sky’s dome). Saturn, Mars and Antares will align on the sky’s dome. Saturn will mark the northern point and Antares the southern point of this celestial line-up, with Mars to the south of Saturn and to the north of Antares.

After the Mars-Saturn conjunction on August 24, be sure to keep an eye on Saturn, Mars and Antares as darkness falls in the following months.

You’ll see the red planet Mars travel farther and farther east of Saturn and Antares day by day.

Bottom line: On August 12, 2016, the peak of the Perseid meteor shower has probably passed, but you can still see meteors in a dark sky in the hours before dawn. Also, on August 12, use the moon to locate a triangle of objects: Saturn, Mars and Antares. By late August and September, Mars will have moved to the other side of Saturn and Antares, to mark the easternmost point of this changing celestial triangle.