August 2013 astronomy events

¡SkyCaramba! Weekly astronomy blog for the week ending August 3, 2013

August mornings start with Jupiter and Mars still fairly close after last month’s close call. Mercury is below them in the dawn, having been at greatest elongation just before July ended. A waning crescent moon will be by Aldebaran in the east on the 1st, to the right of Jupiter on the 3rd, and below and right of Mars on the 4th.

Mars and Jupiter are moving among the stars of Gemini until Mars is in Cancer at the end of August. You can see the red planet by Wasat in the lower half of the twin Pollux on the 11th. Jupiter passes by Mebsuta in the twin Castor during the first half of August. It’s between the twins in the second half. Mercury will have disappeared into the sun’s glare by the last days of the month.

In the evening sky, Venus is low above the horizon in the west at sunset. The moon passes Venus on the 10th. You can find Saturn slowly moving eastward from the much dimmer Kappa Virginis. They are both east of Spica. The moon is by Saturn on the 12th a few hours after occulting Spica. The occultation is visible in the western Pacific Ocean off the coast of China between Japan and the Philippines.

Sagittarius and Scorpio are close to the meridian as darkness sets in during the evening. They’re fairly far south. If you’re far enough south, they’ll appear to be overhead. For those in middle latitudes in the northern hemisphere, they are close to the southern horizon.

One of the best meteor showers of the year for northern hemisphere sky watchers is the Perseids. It will peak during the morning hours around the 12th. The meteors appear to radiate from close to the Double Cluster in Perseus. In the northern hemisphere, you may see up to 60 meteors per hour. South of the equator, you may still see a few, perhaps 15 to 20 an hour.

The moon is at apogee on the 3rd, perigee on the 19th, and apogee again on the 30th. Northern lunistice is on the 2nd, the moon crosses the equator on the 9th, southern lunistice occurs on the 16th, and the moon crosses the equator again on the 22nd. This month gives us a second northern lunistice on the 29th.

The moon phases this month are new on the 6th, first quarter on the 14th, full on the 21st, and last quarter on the 28th.

Mercury goes through perihelion on the 12th. Neptune is at opposition on the 27th. Two of the brightest asteroids are at opposition this month: Juno on the 4th and Iris on the 16th.

There’s your line on what’s going on up there in August 2013. ¡SkyCaramba!