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August’s Night Sky Guide (August 2022)

The summer night sky in August will be full of celestial sights, most notably the Full Sturgeon Moon (the fourth and final supermoon of 2022), the Summer Triangle (three of the brightest stars shining together), the peak of the Perseid meteor shower (which will unfortunately be obscured by the light of the full Moon), and, finally, the dazzling sight of the crescent Moon with Venus. All times and positions below are listed in Eastern Daylight Time, 40 degrees north of the equator. Please note that mentions of sunrise, midnight, and sunset are true for all time zones. (If you are on the Pacific coast do not count back three hours.)

August’s Night Sky Guide (August 2022) is written by the esteemed astronomer Joe Rao, who serves as an associate lecturer for the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. Mr. Rao regularly contributes to the Farmers’ Almanac, Sky & Telescope Magazine, and Space.com.

Bookmark this page so you can easily refer to it over the next few weeks. Tap on any of the highlighted planets, constellations, or sky terms to learn more about each. If you’re interested in locating particular planets in the sky throughout the year, be sure to consult our visible planets guide.

August 3 – Mercury and Regulus

About thirty minutes after sunset, use binoculars and scan low on the horizon (west-northwest) to find Mercury, sparkling at magnitude -0.4 (Please see the footnote at the bottom of this page about magnitudes). Once you’ve found Mercury, try to spot the bluish colored 1st-magnitude star, Regulus (in the constellation Leo). It will be hanging in the night sky less than one degree to the left of Mercury.

August 5 – First Quarter Moon

First Quarter Moon at 7:07 a.m.

August 8-10 The Perseid Meteor Shower

Please see August 13 below.

August 11 – Full Sturgeon Moon (Supermoon) with Saturn

The next full Moon will be the Full Sturgeon Moon on August 11, 2022 at 9:36 p.m. Learn why the Native Americans named August’s full Moon that, as well as the alternative names: Green Corn Moon and Full Red Moon. This full Moon will be the fourth and final supermoon of 2022. Learn more about supermoons here. Saturn will accompany the full Moon, shining brightly about five degrees to the left.

August 13 – The Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks

The Perseid Meteor Shower peaks one and half days after the full Moon, so observations of meteors will be seriously hampered by the bright light. Subsequent mornings are equally unfavorable. Observers are better off looking for Perseids before maximum, during the brief intervals of dark sky that occur between moonset and the start of morning twilight. For North American observers, this window lasts about two and a half hours on the August 8, ninety minutes on August 9, and a half hour on the morning of August 10. Perseids are meteors whose paths, extended backward, seem to emanate from a point halfway between Perseus (The Monster Slayer) and Cassiopeia (Queen of the Sky).

August 14 – Saturn At Opposition and Jupiter

Saturn appears as a lone, bright “star” low in the southeastern evening sky. Shining at magnitude +0.3 in eastern Capricornus, it attains opposition tonight. You don’t need a telescope to see this planet shining brightly in the sky, but you may want one to be able to admire its gorgeous rings. (Note: Saturn’s rings are more closed than they have been in past years, appearing just one-fifth as wide as they are long.)

About an hour and a half before midnight, Jupiter will rise and join Saturn in the night sky (Saturn will have moved to the southern sky by this point.) “Big Jupe” will hover 4 degrees to the Moon’s upper left. 

Jupiter is magnificent this month as it moves towards opposition (coming in late September). By August 31, it will have brightened to an eye-popping magnitude of -2.9.

August 18-31 – The Summer Triangle

Look overhead at approximately midnight to see three of the brightest stars of summer shine together as the Summer Triangle. These three stars— Vega, Deneb, and Altair—are actually members of three separate constellations: Vega is brightest star in The Lyre (constellation Lyra),  Deneb is the brightest in The Swan (Cygnus), and Altair is brightest in The Eagle (Aquila).

Note: The Summer Triangle is visible for a longer period of time than the date range listed. August 18-31 is simply a suggested time frame for sky watching during August 2022.

An illustration explaining sky events in August night sky with emphasis on the Summer Triangle.
Spot three of the brightest stars in the night sky this month as the Summer Triangle!

August 19 – Last Quarter Moon with Mars

The last quarter Moon occurs at 12:36 a.m. The fiery “star” Mars hangs just a couple of degrees below it. Also, take note of The Pleiades Star Cluster (The Seven Sisters) about five degrees to the upper left of Mars. (This is about three fingers’ width apart. See chart below!) As the distance between Earth and Mars diminishes over the course of this month, Mars shines brighter. It’s a match the great star Arcturus both in color and brilliance by the August 31 (when it will be magnitude -0.1).

August 25 – The Crescent Moon with Venus

Set your alarm clock for 5:30 a.m. and look low toward the east-northeast horizon to see a thin crescent Moon hovering about 6 degrees above the brilliant light of Venus. Tomorrow morning, an even slimmer crescent will be a similar distance from Venus, but will have shifted to its lower left. At the start of August Venus was rising at the break of dawn, but now it appears decidedly lower and doesn’t rise until about an hour before sunrise. 

August 27 – New Moon

The new Moon (the Moon phase opposite of a full Moon) occurs at 4:17 a.m.

A chart showing how to measure space with your outstretched hand and fingers.
Distances in outer space are easier to grasp with our “handy” chart! Also, see our note about magnitudes below.

Magnitudes explained

Magnitudes refer to the brightness of an object in space. The lower the number, the more dazzling it is. Bright stars are 1 or 0 magnitude. Fainter ones are 5 or 6. Super bright stars are in negative numbers. For instance, Sirius is magnitude -1.4. (For reference, the full Moon is -12.7 and the Sun is -26.7.)

Join the conversation

Which sky event are you looking forward to seeing most this month? The next full Moon?

Which is your favorite full Moon of the two: The Sturgeon Moon or The Harvest Moon (in September)?

Have you ever spotted the Summer Triangle before? Let us know in the comments below!

August Night Sky

 

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