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In the Sky This Month

Sagittarius and Scorpius dominate the southern sky on August evenings. Both of the ancient star patterns are easy to pick out, even under moderate light pollution. Some of the bright stars of Sagittarius, which leads the scorpion across the sky, form the outline of a teapot, while Scorpius forms an easily recognizable hook. Ophiuchus the serpent bearer wheels above them, flanked by the head and tail of the serpent.

August 15: Wow!

In 1977, a radio telescope detected the “wow!” signal, which is considered the most likely signal from an extraterrestrial civilization. It was to the left of the teapot outlined by the stars of Sagittarius, which is low in the south at nightfall. Subsequent searchers have turned up empty.

August 16: Steamy Nights

The middle of summer may not be the best time for a steaming pot of tea, but that’s just what the night sky offers. The brightest stars of Sagittarius, which is in the south at nightfall, form the outline of a teapot. The hazy Milky Way seems to form puffs of steam from the spout.

August 17: Moon and Uranus

The Moon takes dead aim at the planet Uranus tonight. The Sun’s seventh planet will be close to the lower left of the Moon as they climb into good view, around midnight. You need binoculars or a telescope to see the planet. It looks like a faint star with a hint of green.

August 18: Moon and Mars

Look for Mars rising near the Moon after midnight. They stand high in the sky at first light. The planet, which is getting closer to us by the day, looks like a bright orange star, colored by iron-rich dust in its atmosphere.

August 19: Moon and Aldebaran

Aldebaran, the bright orange star that marks the eye of Taurus, the bull, stands close to the lower right of the Moon at first light tomorrow. A brighter orange light is farther to their upper right: the planet Mars.

August 20: Common Profile

Many bright stars in the night sky fit a similar profile. They’re roughly twice the size and mass of the Sun and a couple of dozen times its brightness. The list includes two stars of the Summer Triangle, which is high in the sky at nightfall, and the five middle stars of the Big Dipper.

August 21: Pacing Bear

A big bear paces around the North Star: Ursa Major, whose brightest stars form the Big Dipper. The dipper outlines the bear’s rump and tail. Dimmer stars trace the rest of its body. Xi Ursae Majoris, which consists of two pairs of stars, marks its hindmost paw.

First QuarterFirst August 5, 6:07 am

Full MoonFull August 11, 8:36 pm

Last quarterLast August 18, 11:36 pm

New MoonNew August 27, 3:17 am

Times are U.S. Central Time.

Perigee August 10

Apogee August 22

The full Moon of August is known as the Grain Moon or Green Corn Moon.