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.
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In the Sky This Month
August 17: More Moon and Jupiter
The bright star-like point of light to the lower right of the Moon tonight is Jupiter, the solar system’s largest planet. It is about 11 times Earth’s diameter, and more massive than all the other planets, moons, asteroids, and comets combined.
August 18: Moon and Antares
Look for bright orange Antares, the star at the heart of Scorpius, to the lower left of the Moon as darkness falls tonight. It will be to the lower right of the Moon tomorrow night.
August 19: North vs. South
Most of the action in the evening sky right now is in the south. The four brightest lights in the entire night sky are there — the Moon and the planets Venus, Jupiter, and Mars. So are the planet Saturn, and the bright stars Antares and Spica.
August 20: Moon and Saturn
The Moon slides past Saturn the next couple of nights. The giant planet looks like a bright star. It’s close to the lower left of the Moon tonight, and farther to the right of the Moon tomorrow night.
August 21: Sirius Rising
Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, is low in the east-southeast before sunrise. Also known as the Dog Star for its location in Canis Major, the big dog, it will climb into better view as the month progresses.
August 22: Moon and Mars
Mars looks like a bright orange star low in the southeast at nightfall. It is close to the lower left of the Moon tonight, and a similar distance to the lower right of the Moon tomorrow night.
August 23: More Moon and Mars
Look for Mars close to the lower right of the Moon this evening, and staying close to the Moon throughout the night. It looks like a bright orange star. Although Mars has faded over the past month, it’s still one of the brightest lights in the night sky.