In the Sky This Month for August 8 – August 14

Egyptian God

In the Sky This Month

The Moon rolls past one bright light after another this month, including the brilliant planets Venus, Jupiter, and Mars. At the same time, two of the signature star patterns of summer, Scorpius and Sagittarius, roll low across the south. Scorpius really does look like a scorpion, while the brightest stars of Sagittarius, which represents a centaur holding a bow and arrow, form a wide teapot.

August 8: M11

The star cluster M11 is well up in the south this evening, in the constellation Scutum, the shield. Because its brightest stars resemble a flock of ducks, it’s also called the Wild Duck cluster. Through binoculars, it looks like a patch of mist.

August 9: Ara

The mythical victory of the gods of Olympus over their predecessors, the Titans, is commemorated in the stars, as the altar where they swore allegiance to each other. It’s the constellation Ara, below the tail of the scorpion.

August 10: Solar Eclipse

A partial solar eclipse will take place early tomorrow, as the Moon covers part of the Sun’s disk. It will be visible from the Arctic Ocean through Greenland, Scandinavia, and parts of Asia. The United States misses out on this one, though.

August 11: Perseids

The Perseid meteor shower should be at its best tonight. Under dark skies, you might see a dozen or so of its shooting stars per hour. The Moon isn’t around to interfere with the light show.

August 12: NGC 6397

NGC 6397 is a giant star cluster in Ara, the altar. It’s below the stinger of the scorpion. From the United States, it’s visible only from far-southern latitudes. The cluster took shape when the Milky Way galaxy was just 400 million years old.

August 13: Moon and Venus

Venus, the brilliant “evening star,” stands to the left of the Moon this evening, and even closer below the Moon tomorrow night. The star Spica is to the upper left of Venus and the Moon, with bright Jupiter farther along the same line.

August 14: More Moon and Venus

Venus is farthest from the Sun for its current “evening star” appearance. Because of the angle at which the planet sets, though, it doesn’t look far from the Sun. It’s quite low in the west as night falls. Tonight, it’s below the crescent Moon.