The chart shows the whole sky, at the times given at the top left of the chart.
The edge of the chart is the HORIZON, and the ZENITH is at the centre.

This chart is for LATITUDE 54 degrees NORTH, and is produced using 'PLANETARIUM GOLD' software.

AUGUST, 2020

 

August 2020

 

As the month begins, the Sun is passing through the stars of Cancer, until around 12h00 on the 10th, when it crosses the boundary into Leo, where it remains for the rest of the month. From the beginning of the month, truly dark nights begin again in northern UK.

The Moon

The Moon is at perigee, its nearest to the Earth, at 11h on the 21st (33 minutes of arc diameter). It is at apogee (furthest from the earth) at 14h00 on the 9th (30 minutes of arc)

Full Moon occurs at 15h59 on the 3rd in the constellation of Capricornus. Some would consider this to be the Harvest Moon as it more closely is at the time of the grain harvest in the northern hemisphere; however the title is now given to the September Full Moon and will be described next month.

Last Quarter Moon is on the 11th at 16h45 in the constellation of eastern Aries. 

New Moon is on the 19th at 02h42 in the constellation of Leo, when it passes about 4° to the north of the Sun.

First Quarter Moon at 17h58 on the 25th takes place in the constellation of Scorpius, and occults beta Scorpii, within the hour.

It may be possible to glimpse earthshine on the night hemisphere of the waxing crescent Moon from the 20th to the 23rd, (although twilight and the Moon’s low altitude may interfere somewhat), and on the waning crescent Moon from the 12th to the 18th.

The Planets

The best time to see Mercury is during the first week of the month, lying near the Cancer/Gemini border, and rises just less than three hours before the Sun. Scan low in the NE in order to spot this elusive planet. On the 17th, Mercury passes behind the Sun and so is in inferior conjunction, and will not be seen for the rest of the month.

Venus, as ‘Phosphorus, the Morning Star’, rises at around 01h all month, and dominates the August twilit morning sky. It lies above Orion which is beginning to make its appearance once again at 03h. The planet is near to the Taurus/Orion/Gemini borders, and it reaches its greatest western elongation (46°) from the Sun on the 13th. The waning crescent Moon with earthshine on its night hemisphere may be seen approaching Venus on the 15th, and there is a good opportunity to try to spot Venus with the unaided eye at 09h, when the two objects are on the southern meridian, and high in the sky at 09h. The Moon lies 4° (eight moon-widths) to the north of Venus. The magnitude of Venus is -4.3, so once you have detected them through binoculars, attempt to see the pair with the unaided eye.

At the beginning of the month, Mars rises at 22h, decreasing to 20h30 at the end of the month. The planet is moving eastwards in Pisces, just north of the Cetus border and is increasing in brightness from -1.3 on August 1st, to -1.8 on the 31st. Mars has become a bright spectacular object in the early morning sky, high in the south at around 04h on the south meridian mid-month. At this time no other object can rival it except Venus and the Moon, which on the 15th are over in the east and in conjunction. The waning gibbous Moon may be seen approaching Mars on the 9th, and they are at their closest when the Sun rises that morning. At this time the two objects are just over 2° (four moon-widths) apart.

Jupiter was in opposition last month, and it culminates on the south meridian in the constellation of Sagittarius at around 22h, when the magnitude -2.6 planet may be seen some 15° above the southern horizon. The waxing gibbous Moon passes almost 3° south of Jupiter at 23h on August 1st. There is a further Jupiter/Moon conjunction on the 28th, when at 23h, the two are again in a similar configuration low in the SW sky.

Continue to observe the ever-changing positions of the Galilean moons through well focussed and firmly fixed binoculars, the daily configuration of which is on the front page of these Sky Notes.

Saturn lies some 8° to the east of Jupiter and is also in Sagittarius, but the ringed planet at magnitude at +0.2 is fainter than Jupiter but is still a conspicuous object low down in the southern sky at around 21h as evening twilight fades. On the evening of the 2nd the almost Full Moon lies 5° to the lower left of Saturn as they are rising in the SE. There is a second conjunction with the waxing gibbous Moon on the 29th, when at 21h the Moon is just over 3° to the lower left of Saturn.

The northern surface of the rings is still well presented towards the earth, although they are now beginning to close, and  should still delight observers with small telescopes on glimpsing this gem of the solar system.

During August, the planet Pluto lies almost midway between Jupiter and Saturn, but because of Pluto’s faintness (+14), and its low altitude, a moderate telescope is required in order to spot the photons emanating from this distant world.

Throughout August, Uranus, magnitude 5.7, still lies in

the constellation of Aries, north of the Cetus border. It lies on the threshold of naked eye visibility, but is readily visible in binoculars if you know where to look for it. There is a location chart available on the ‘Remote Planets’ page in the MENU of these Sky Notes.

Neptune, magnitude +7.8,three times fainter than Uranus, lies in the constellation of Aquarius, 2°24 mins of arc to the east of the +4.3 magnitude star phi Aquarii.

Greater details of the planet’s position is to be found on the ‘Remote Planets’ page, accessible via the MENU.

 

One of the best shooting star showers of the year peaks at 13h on the 12th, so is best seen during the early hours of the mornings of both the 12th and 13th. These meteors are called the Perseids, or the ‘Tears of St Lawrence’. Expect to see 80 or more shooting stars each hour, and especially in the early morning sky. Seeing conditions are fair, but the Moon, which is just past quarter in the morning sky, may interfere somewhat.

This is a rich shower of fast meteors, some of which will leave persistent trails. The Perseid meteors are associated with the Swift-Tuttle comet discovered in the nineteenth century. The period of this comet is 133 years and its next close approach to the earth will take place on August 5th 2126. The current predicted distance between the comet and the earth on that occasion is 22,900,000 km (14,200,000 miles). Expect an exceptional shower in August of that year!!

There is more information on a dedicated page accessed via the MENU.

 

Constellations visible in the south around midnight, mid-month, are as follows: Capricornus, Aquarius, Equuleus (the Little Horse), Delphinus (The Dolphin) and Cygnus. The Milky Way is at the zenith, and spans the sky from the NE to the SW.

 

All times are GMT     1° is one finger width at arm’s length.

 SUMMARY

The phenomena of the month : AUGUST 2020
Times are given in UT for SCARBOROUGH (0° 25' 0" W, 54° 16' 3" N, zone 0 - UNIVERSAL TIME).

 

Date Hour Description of the phenomenon
yyyy mm dd hh:mm

 

The phenomena of the month : August 2020
Times are given in daylight time for SCARBOROUGH (0° 25' 5" W, 54° 16' 31" N, zone Z).

Date Hour Description of the phenomenon
yyyy mm dd hh:mm

2020 08 01 23:10 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 08 02 01:43 Close encounter between the Moon and Jupiter (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 2.4°)
2020 08 02 07:59 Close encounter between the Moon and Pluto (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 1.7°)
2020 08 02 14:02 Close encounter between the Moon and Saturn (topocentric dist. cenrer to centre = 2.8°)
2020 08 02 18:57 Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae
2020 08 03 01:06 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2020 08 03 10:00 Mars at its perihelion (distance to the Sun = 1.38138 AU)
2020 08 03 16:59 FULL MOON
2020 08 03 23:09 Beginning of occultation of 28-phi Cap (magn. = 5.17)
2020 08 04 00:13 End of occultation of 28-phi Cap (magn. = 5.17)
2020 08 04 19:59 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 08 05 19:19 Opposition of the asteroid 44 Nysa with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 2.757 AU; magn. = 10.5)
2020 08 06 05:00 Mercury at its perihelion (distance to the Sun = 0.30750 AU)
2020 08 06 18:09 Close encounter between the Moon and Neptune (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 4.7°)
2020 08 07 16:48 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 08 08 09:53 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2020 08 09 11:14 Close encounter between the Moon and Mars (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 1.1°)
2020 08 09 14:51 Moon at apogee (geocentric dist. = 404659 km)
2020 08 09 15:32 Minimum of the variable star beta Lyrae
2020 08 09 18:39 Maximum of the variable star zeta Gemini
2020 08 09 23:12 Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae
2020 08 10 13:36 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 08 10 23:59 Close encounter between the Moon and Uranus (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 4.2°)
2020 08 11 17:45 LAST QUARTER OF THE MOON
2020 08 12 10:30 Meteor shower : Perseids (110 meteors/hour at zenith; duration = 38.0 days)
2020 08 13 10:25 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 08 13 12:00 GREATEST WESTERN ELONGATION of Venus (45.7°)
2020 08 13 18:40 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2020 08 15 04:15 Close encounter between the Moon and M 35 (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 1.2°)
2020 08 15 15:39 Close encounter between the Moon and Venus (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 3.3°)
2020 08 16 07:14 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 08 17 03:26 Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae
2020 08 17 13:48 Meteor shower : Kappa Cygnids (3 meteors/hour at zenith; duration = 22.0 days)
2020 08 17 16:07 SUPERIOR CONJUNCTION of Mercury with the Sun (geoc. dist. centre to centre = 1.8°)
2020 08 19 03:27 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2020 08 19 03:41 NEW MOON
2020 08 19 04:02 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 08 19 22:15 Maximum of the variable star zeta Gemini
2020 08 21 11:59 Moon at perigee (geocentric dist. = 363513 km)
2020 08 22 00:51 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 08 22 14:07 Minimum of the variable star beta Lyrae
2020 08 24 07:41 Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae
2020 08 24 12:15 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2020 08 24 21:39 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 08 25 18:57 FIRST QUARTER OF THE MOON
2020 08 25 20:21 End of occultation of 8-beta1 Sco, Graffias, (magn. = 2.60)
2020 08 27 18:28 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 08 27 20:45 Close encounter between the Moon and M 8 (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 0.4°)
2020 08 28 17:52 Opposition of the asteroid 1 Ceres with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 2.976 AU; magn. = 7.6)
2020 08 29 00:53 Opposition of the asteroid 20 Massalia with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 2.582 AU; magn. = 9.6)
2020 08 29 04:12 Close encounter between the Moon and Jupiter (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 2.1°)
2020 08 29 11:36 Close encounter between the Moon and Pluto (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 1.7°)
2020 08 29 16:33 Close encounter between the Moon and Saturn (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 3.0°)
2020 08 29 21:02 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2020 08 30 01:50 Maximum of the variable star zeta Gemini
2020 08 30 15:16 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 08 31 11:56 Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae
2020 08 31 15:58 Meteor shower : Alpha Aurigids (6 meteors/hour at zenith; duration = 8.0 days)

(Using Coelix Software) 

 



 

SELECTED LUNAR OCCULTATIONS VISIBLE FROM SCARBOROUGH UK THIS MONTH.

Source: 'Coelix' software

The angular diameters of the Planets compared.