Title: August Skywatch Highlights
Location: Hawaiian Islands
Date / Time: August 2011
Comments: Behold our spectacular summer skies! Glorious bands of Milky Way stars illuminate our dark Hawaiian sky with a rich, "milky" haze. The stars & constellations of the Summer Triangle (Navigator's Triangle) appear high overhead in our August sky, (Altair, in Aquila the Eagle; Vega in Lyra, the Harp; & Deneb in Cygnus the Swan), while Scorpius, the giant Scorpion, & Sagittarius, the Archer, display boldly in the southwest. SATURN is probably best viewed in the early evening. At the beginning of August, look for the ringed planet about 30 degrees high in the west at dusk, & setting about 10:30 PM. By the end of the month, Saturn will be only about 10 degrees above the western horizon at dusk, & will set by 8:45 PM. Saturn will appear closer & closer to Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo, the Maiden. While Saturn & Spica appear equally as bright (0.9 mag.), notice the color contrast between yellowish Saturn, & blue-white Spica. Saturn's spectacular ring system currently tilts 9 degrees to our line of sight from Earth, and telescopic viewing is quite stunning! Dazzling JUPITER certainly lives up to its nickname this month: The King of Planets. The gas giant rises in the east at midnight in early August & by 10 PM at the end of the month and, at magnitude minus -2.5, it appears as the brightest object in our sky (except for the Moon). The brilliant planet spends most of the month tracking eastward across south-central Aries, the Ram. Jupiter will be high overhead in the early morning hours before daybreak, a great time to view, through a telescope or good binoculars, Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons, in their ever-changing configurations. Galileo first saw them nearly 400 years ago with a 1.5-inch telescope of lower quality than any available today. Look for a waning gibbous Moon next to Jupiter on August 19-20. MARS appears as a fairly dim object (1.4 mag) in the morning sky, rising in the east around 3:00 AM throughout the month. From Aug. 4th thru mid-month, the red planet appears near the "feet" of the Gemini twins, and appears somewhat brighter (& more reddish) than these stars. Look for the crescent Moon next to Mars early on August 25th. VENUS will be lost in the Sun's glow this month. It will reappear in the evening sky in late September. MERCURY passes between the Sun & Earth (inferior conjunction) & will also be lost in the Sun's glare. However the tiny innermost planet returns to the morning sky by month's end. Look for Mercury on the morning of August 27th, around 5:30 AM, very low in the east, just below the slender crescent Moon. Mercury will brighten & climb higher in the predawn sky each day. By the 31st, the planet will have brightened to magnitude 0.3 & will appear 10 degrees above the eastern horizon 30 minutes before Sunrise. For an August Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

Maintained by Roz Reiner - Kauai, Hawaii

 

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