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.
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In the Sky This Month
August 10: Skipping Away
The Perseid meteor shower is building toward its peak. Tonight, you might see a few of its streaks of light, which are particles of rock and dust vaporizing high in the atmosphere. The Moon will drown out all but the brightest of them, however.
August 11: Moon and Saturn
Saturn is close to the upper left of the Moon as they rise, shortly after nightfall. The Sun’s second-largest planet will reach opposition on the 14th, putting on its best showing for the entire year. Saturn looks like a bright golden star.
August 12: Perseid Meteors
The Perseid meteor shower should reach its peak tonight. But an almost-full Moon will overpower all but the brightest meteors. The Moon is especially close, making it especially bright, so it’s an even bigger hindrance.
August 13: Celestial Sea
The Moon swims through the celestial “sea” tonight, which is a group of constellations related to water. As darkness falls, the Moon is near the eastern edge of Aquarius the water bearer, which stretches to the right and upper right of the Moon.
August 14: Moon and Jupiter
The planet Jupiter stays close to the Moon tonight. They climb into good view by about 11 p.m. and arc across the south later on. Jupiter looks like a brilliant star to the right or upper right of the Moon.
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.
First August 5, 6:07 am
Full August 11, 8:36 pm
Last August 18, 11:36 pm
New 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.