The Sky This Week for August 25 to August 27
Friday, August 25
Following its meeting with the Sun earlier this week, the Moon has now climbed into view in the evening sky. Be sure to catch the 20-percent-lit crescent this evening, when it forms a pretty triangle with magnitude –1.8 Jupiter and 1st-magnitude Spica. All three objects lie in the constellation Virgo and stand well clear of the west-southwestern horizon during evening twilight. And don’t pass up an opportunity to view Jupiter through a telescope. The giant planet’s disk spans 33″ and shows a wealth of atmospheric detail.
Saturday, August 26
Venus appeared among the background stars of Gemini the Twins yesterday morning, but you’ll find it against the backdrop of Cancer the Crab today. This border crossing sets up a pretty conjunction a week from now, when the gleaming planet passes near the Beehive star cluster (M44).
Mercury reaches inferior conjunction, passing between the Sun and Earth, at 5 p.m. EDT. The innermost planet will return to view before dawn in early September.
Sunday, August 27
The constellations Ursa Major the Great Bear and Cassiopeia the Queen lie on opposite sides of the North Celestial Pole, so they appear to pivot around the North Star (Polaris) throughout the course of the night and the year. In late August and early September, these two constellations appear equally high as darkness falls. You can find Ursa Major and its prominent asterism, the Big Dipper, about 30° above the northwestern horizon. Cassiopeia’s familiar W-shape, which currently lies on its side, appears the same height above the northeastern horizon. As the night progresses, Cassiopeia climbs above Polaris while the Big Dipper swings below.