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In the Sky This Month

Mars, Antares, and Saturn remain tightly grouped this month, although Mars begins to move away from the others at month’s end. By then, Venus will be inching its way into the early evening twilight, beginning a long run as the Evening Star. One of August’s greatest treats, though, is the Milky Way, which arcs overhead by midnight. It’s anchored in the south by teapot-shaped Sagittarius, which is next door to Scorpius, home to Antares and the temporary home of Mars and Saturn.

August 31: Annular Eclipse

Residents of Africa will see an annular eclipse of the Sun tomorrow. The Moon will pass between Earth and Sun, blocking most of the Sun’s disk. But the Moon is farther from Earth than average, so it won’t be big enough to cover the entire disk.

September 1: Neptune at Opposition

Neptune is shining at its brightest. The solar system’s most distant major planet lines up opposite the Sun, so it rises at sunset and is in view all night, in the constellation Aquarius. At a minimum, though, you need strong binoculars to see it.

September 2: Zodiacal Light

If you are in a clear, dark country location before dawn over the next few weeks, you might see an elusive phenomenon called the zodiacal light. Look toward the eastern horizon before twilight begins for a ghostly pyramid of light.

September 3: Moon and Venus

Look for the planet Venus shortly after sunset this evening, to the lower right of the crescent Moon. It is brilliant but low in the sky, and it sets by about the time the last blush of twilight fades away.

September 4: Messier 39

The star cluster Messier 39 stands high in the northeast at nightfall, to the lower left of Deneb, the bright star that marks the tail of Cygnus, the swan. A good pair of binoculars will allow you to see the entire cluster in a single view.

September 5: Earthshine

The Moon is in its waxing crescent phase, so sunlight illuminates only a sliver of the lunar disk. As night falls, the dark portion of the disk becomes visible because it is illuminated by earthshine, or sunlight reflected off of Earth.

September 6: Sirius and Procyon

The stars Sirius and Procyon are in the east and southeast at first light. Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky. Procyon is to its upper left. The name Procyon means “before the dog,” meaning it precedes Sirius, the Dog Star, into the sky.

Current moon phase

New MoonNew Aug. 2, 3:45 pm

First QuarterFirst Aug. 10, 1:21 pm

Full MoonFull Aug. 18, 4:27 am

Last quarterLast Aug. 24, 10:41 pm

Times are U.S. Central Time.

Apogee August 9

Perigee August 21

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