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Last Week's Stargazing Tips

August 16: Starry Queen

Cassiopeia circles up across the northeastern sky this evening. The queen’s brightest stars form a letter W, making the constellation easy to find. All five of the stars in that pattern are much bigger, heavier, and brighter than the Sun.

August 15: Sigma Scorpii

The celestial scorpion curves above the southern horizon as night falls, with bright orange Antares as its heart. Faint Sigma Scorpii, to the right of Antares, consists of four stars, at least one of which will end its life as a supernova.

August 14: Full Moon

The Moon will be full tomorrow at 7:29 a.m. CDT, as it lines up opposite the Sun. The full Moon of August is known as the Grain Moon, Green Corn Moon, or Sturgeon Moon.

August 13: Venus on the Move

The planet Venus is passing behind the Sun as seen from Earth, so it is hidden from view. It will return as the brilliant “evening star” in October, with the exact date depending on your latitude.

August 12: Twinkles

Stars twinkle because Earth’s atmosphere bends their light. Different colors bend at different angles, so twinkling stars flash different colors. Twinkling also spreads a star’s light, turning it into a fuzzy blob when viewed through a telescope.

August 11: Moon and Saturn

The Moon tonight sets its sights on the second-biggest planet in the solar system. Saturn looks like a bright star to the left of the Moon as darkness falls. It will stand even closer above the Moon as they set in the wee hours of the morning.

August 10: Perseid Meteors

The Perseid meteor shower will be at its best the next few nights. This “rain” of comet dust has put on some good shows over the years, but this year’s won’t be one of them. The Moon will overpower all but its brightest “shooting stars.”