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August 2019: 3 things stargazers won’t want to miss in the night sky

By Brian Lada, AccuWeather meteorologist and staff writer
July 31, 2019, 8:01:14 AM EDT


August is just around the corner, and with the new month comes an event that stargazers have had marked on their calendars for months, one of the best meteor showers of the entire year.

Here are three astronomy events to mark on your calendar throughout August:

1. Moon to align with Jupiter, Saturn
When: Aug. 9-11

The second weekend of August will bring a great opportunity to set up a telescope and point it toward the heavens as Saturn, Jupiter and the moon all fall in line across the southern sky.

The three-night show will kick off on the night of Friday, Aug. 9, as the moon sits next to Jupiter. This will be a great opportunity for photographers to capture images of the two objects up close in the same photo.

2019-08-9.jpg


On Saturday, Aug. 10, the moon will be directly between Jupiter and Saturn in the southern sky.

2019-08-10.jpg


Sunday, Aug. 11, may be the best of the three nights for those who are learning how to use a new telescope. The moon will be just to the right of Saturn, making it much easier to find the rings of the planet through the eyepiece of a telescope.

2019-08-11.jpg


If weather does not cooperate for these three nights, folks can still see Jupiter and Saturn in the southern sky through the coming weeks, but they will gradually grow dimmer heading into autumn.

2. Peak of Perseid meteor shower
When: Aug 12-13

The Perseid meteor shower is one of the most-anticipated astronomy events every year and will reach its climax on the night of Monday, Aug. 12, into the early morning hours of Tuesday, Aug. 13.

“The peak of this shower is something to behold. Since it occurs during the warm summer months, it is the most popular meteor shower in the Northern Hemisphere,” AccuWeather Astronomy Blogger Dave Samuhel said.

As many as 100 meteors per hour are visible in a typical year; however, onlookers this year should not expect to see quite as many this month. This is because the Perseids peak just before the full moon. The bright moon will shine all night long, washing out many of the dimmer meteors.

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Shooting stars will be visible streaking across all parts of the sky, but to increase your chances of seeing the greatest number of meteors, you should look in a part of the sky away from the nearly full moon.

After the Perseids, stargazers will need to wait until October to see shooting stars rain down from the heavens in great numbers once again.

3. Orion the Hunter returns to the sky
When: Late August

Although there is still plenty of summer left before the arrival of autumn, the night sky is already starting to show signs of the change in the seasons.

One of the signs of the changing seasonal skies is the return of the constellation Orion, one of the most well-known constellations.

2019-08-16 Orion.jpg


To see Orion, folks will need to set their alarms and step outside an hour or two before dawn and look to the east.

Looking back at July

July was a busy month in the world of astronomy, kicking off with the first total solar eclipse anywhere in the world since the 2017 Great American Eclipse. Later in the month, a partial lunar eclipse was visible across much of the world, with the exception of North America.

The total solar eclipse over South America on July 2, 2019. This image shows the brief phenomenon of Baily's beads. (Photo/ Gordon Telepun)

(AccuWeather Photo/Brian Lada)

Apollo flight commander Gene Kranz standing at his refurbished desk on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

(Image/Frank Little)

The moon rising over New York City on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

(AP Photo/John Raoux)

A NASA Orion spacecraft lifts off from pad 46 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Tuesday, July 2, 2019, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. This launch is for a test of the capsule's launch abort system, which is a rocket-powered tower on top of the crew module built to very quickly get astronauts safely away from their launch vehicle if there is a problem during ascent.

(AP Photo/Michel Euler)

The earth's shadow covers the moon during a partial lunar eclipse in Louveciennes, west of Paris, France, Tuesday, July 16, 2019 on the day of the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Apollo 11 mission.

(AP Photo/John Raoux)

A Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket on a resupply mission to the International Space Station lifts off from pad 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Thursday, July 25, 2019.

(AP Photo/John Raoux)

The first stage of the Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket returns to a landing pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station after a successful launch to resupply the International Space Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Thursday, July 25, 2019.

(Image/NASA/NOAA)

The shadow of the moon is visible in this GOES-West satellite imagery over the southern Pacific Ocean, just south of Hurricane Barbara, during the total solar eclipse on July 2, 2019.

(Twitter / @_Brandano_)

The moon blocks out the sun over South America as the solar eclipse reaches totality on July 2, 2019.


July 20, 2019, marked the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing when Neil Armstrong became the first human to step foot on another world. Some of the largest celebrations were held at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Johnson Space Center in Texas.

Stargazers were treated to the first meteor shower since May with the peak of the the southern Delta Aquarids and the Alpha Capricornids during the final days of the month. Saturn also reached peak brightness in July as it reached opposition, the time of the year when it is closest to the Earth.

In late July, SpaceX launched a resupply mission to the International Space Station, but eyes were focused on their prototype rocket, called the Starhopper. On July 25, this new rocket make its first successful test flight, lifting off the ground for a few seconds. This is a big step forward in the development of SpaceX’s next rocket.

NASA’s Orion crew capsule also aced a safety test in early July, showing that it can get astronauts out of harm’s way if there is an emergency during liftoff.


Questions or comments? Email Brian Lada at Brian.Lada@accuweather.com and be sure to follow him on Twitter!


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