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In the Sky This Month

Apair of prominent constellations heralds the short, hot nights of summer: Scorpius and Sagittarius. By the middle of August, the scorpion stands due south as night falls. Under an even modestly dark sky, you should easily make out its curving body, punctuated by the hook-shaped stinger just above the horizon. Sagittarius follows Scorpius across the sky. Its brightest stars form the outline of a teapot. Under a dark sky, “steam” appears to rise from the spout — the hazy band of the Milky Way, outlining the disk of our galactic home.

August 20: Merging Galaxies

Hercules is high in the western sky on August evenings. One of its most interesting features is NGC 6052, a pair of spiral galaxies in the process of merging. Through a telescope, the galaxies look like a pair of spiders locked in mortal combat.

August 21: Vega

Vega, one of the closest and brightest stars in the night sky, stands straight overhead as darkness falls and drops to the northwest during the night. The name Vega comes from an Arabic name that means the eagle.

August 22: Aquila

Aquila, the eagle, soars high across the sky tonight, partially immersed in the glow of the Milky Way. Look beginning about an hour after sunset, when Aquila and its brightest star, Altair, are halfway up the southeastern sky.

August 23: Moon and Aldebaran

Look for the face of the bull at dawn tomorrow, to the right of the Moon. The bright star close to the Moon is Aldebaran, the bull’s eye. It moves through the galaxy alone. The other stars in the V-shaped face are members of the Hyades star cluster.

August 24: Scorpion and Archer

Scorpius and Sagittarius are in the south at nightfall. Look for the curving body of the scorpion just above the horizon, with orange Antares in its middle. Sagittarius is to the left of the scorpion, with its brightest stars forming a teapot.

August 25: Neptune

Neptune, the Sun’s most remote major planet, is nearing its best showing of the year. It climbs into view in early evening, at the western edge of Aquarius. It’s so faint, though, that you need a telescope to see it.

August 26: Solar Twin

18 Scorpii, a star that is a near twin to the Sun, stands high in the southwest at nightfall, far above Antares, the heart of the scorpion. 18 Scorpii is a few degrees hotter than the Sun and a little bit brighter and more massive.

Current moon phase

First QuarterFirst Aug. 7, 12:31 pm

Full MoonFull Aug. 15, 7:29 am

Last quarterLast Aug. 23, 8:56 am

New MoonNew Aug. 30, 5:37 am

Times are U.S. Central Time.

Perigee August 2, 30

Apogee August 17

The full Moon of August is known as the Grain Moon or Green Corn Moon.