As another calendar page is turned and the end of summer draws near, August 2021 offers night sky watchers a month of unbeatable celestial views you won’t want to miss!
The beginning of August marks the best time to view the beautiful planet, Saturn, since it will be the closest proximity to earth with its face illuminated by the sun. Look for the ringed planet and some of its brighter moons (it has 82 of them!) through a telescope all night so long as your skies are clear.
The night of the new moon offers sky watchers the best viewing opportunities since it will be so dark. Look for your favorite star constellations from your own hemisphere by checking out the August Constellation guide here.
August constellations include Aquila, Corona Australis, Lyra, Pavo, Sagitta, Sagittarius, Scutum and Telescopium. Of them, the small constellation, Lyra, will be easy to find in the northern hemisphere as it contains Vega, the 2nd brightest star in the sky.
While you’ve got the telescope pointed at Vega, look for the Ring Nebula just to the south – also known as Messier 57. This football-shaped, glowing object has a distinct blue center wrapped in red and yellow rings and is a popular space object for amateur astronomers to spy.
See if you can spot any of the interesting objects this August while they are viewable.
August 12 & 13
Known for bright meteors, the Perseids Meteor Showers created from the Swift-Tuttle Comet offers some of the best annual meteor shower viewing opportunities. Having started its annual display on the night of July 17th, the Perseids Meteor Showers peaks on the night of the 12th and morning of the 13th offering viewers up to 60 meteors per hour. Radiating from the constellation Perseus, these showers are best watched from a dark location after midnight and can be spotted anywhere in the sky.
Jupiter will be fully illuminated by the sun and at its closest proximity to the earth mid-August, offering an all-night view with a telescope, or binoculars. Look to photograph its colored bands and maybe even spy a few of its bigger, brighter moons. (Jupiter has 79 of them!)
The full, Blue Moon will occur on August 22nd – at 8:01am if you’re located in Michigan. Considered an ‘extra’ full moon of the season, the Blue Moon only happens once every 2.7 years.
North American Natives also called it the Sturgeon Moon because it marked the time of year when sturgeon fish were caught in the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain.
If you’re interested in capturing a stellar photograph of the full moon, you might be interested in reading Quick and Easy Moon Photography Tips before the event.
And if you have an iPhone and you haven’t had any luck shooting night photos with it, you might also find these smart phone photography tips of help in, 6 Easy Steps To Command Control Of Your iPhone 11 In Low-Light.
Let me know how your night sky watching goes this August.
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Constellation Guide, August Constellations, https://www.constellation-guide.com/constellations-by-month/august-constellations/
Farmer’s Almanac, 2021, Full Moon In August 2021: Catch the Full Sturgeon Moon!, https://www.almanac.com/content/full-moon-august
mDawod.com, 2021 Full Moon Calendar, https://phasesmoon.com/fullmooncalendar2021.html
Nasa, October 19, 2017, Messier 71, https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2017/messier-71
Nasa, December 19, 2019, 109P/Swift-Tuttle, https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/asteroids-comets-and-meteors/comets/109p-swift-tuttle/in-depth/
The Sky, 2021, Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events for Calendar Year 2021, http://www.seasky.org/astronomy/astronomy-calendar-2021.html
Time and Date, 2021, Moon Phases 2021 – Lunar Calendar for Detroit, Michigan, USA, https://www.timeanddate.com/moon/phases/usa/detroit
Universe Today, 2020, Astronomy 2021: Top Events for the Coming Year, https://www.universetoday.com/149259/astronomy-2021-top-events-for-the-coming-year/