What's Up in August

Stargazers, mark your calendars because there's so much to see in the sky this August!

It all starts around the middle of the month with the fourth and final supermoon of 2022. A supermoon occurs when the full Moon falls on or near its closest approach to the Earth, called perigee. On August 11, the Moon will reach its full phase, just one day after reaching perigee. Because the Moon will be a little closer to us, it will appear bigger and brighter than usual. 

While enjoying the Moon, try to spot a few of the brightest meteors of the year. The Perseid meteor shower, an annual meteor shower caused by comet Swift-Tuttle, peaks on August 12 and 13. This impressive shower is known to produce about 100 meteors per hour. Unfortunately, with the nearly full Moon in the sky during the peak, you'll see only the brightest meteors streaking across the sky. The Perseid Meteor shower will continue through August 24.

Next, take a look at Saturn, which will reach opposition on August 14. Opposition is an astronomical term describing the positions of a planet and the Sun relative to Earth. When a planet reaches opposition, it is on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun, offering the best time to view it. As the Sun sets on August 14, Saturn will begin to rise and be visible in the sky all night. Telescopes or binoculars will enhance your view, making Saturn's rings appear.

If you're an early riser, head outside on August 19 to see a conjunction of the Moon, Mars, and the Pleiades star cluster in the East. The best time to see it will be around 4 am before morning twilight washes out the fainter planet and stars. 

And last but not least, Mercury returns to the evening skies this month but will hang low on the western horizon after sunset. Your best chance to see it will be on August 27, when it reaches Greatest Eastern Elongation, its highest point in our sky. Binoculars may improve your chances of spotting the fastest planet in the solar system.

No matter when you head outside to gaze at the stars, we wish you clear skies!