Sky Maps (Star Charts): August 2014

Our galaxy, the Milky Way. Credit: NASA

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These free, printable Sky Maps (star charts) by astrononer Jeff DeTray will help find your way around the night sky! 

Each month, Jeff's Sky Maps highlight a wonderful event in the evening sky—including beautiful stars, constellations, planets, conjuntions with the Moon, meteor showers, and other amazing celestial objects.

Sky Map August 2014

By Jeff DeTray, Almanac astronomer writer
Visit Jeff's site at AstronomyBoy.com

This month's highlights: Two Dazzling Conjunctions.

When two celestial objects appear very near one another in the sky, the event is known as a conjunction. The term is most commonly applied to a close encounter of two bright planets, or between a planet and the Moon. This month, we are treated to a pair of triple conjunctions, each one featuring two bright planets as well as the Moon.

We have provided two Sky Maps this month. One map shows the August 23 conjunction of Venus, Jupiter, and the Moon. The second map illustrates the August 31 conjunction of Mars, Saturn, and the Moon.

It should be noted that although the objects in conjunction appear near one another in the sky, they are not actually close together at all. They are simply lined up along our line of sight but at vastly different distances from us.

August 23 Conjunction

On August 23, you'll want to get outside an hour before sunrise and look to the east. There, low in the sky, you'll see the thin crescent Moon, with very bright Venus to the left and less bright Jupiter between and above the Moon and Venus. The Moon at this time is 252,000 miles from Earth; Venus is 151,000,000 miles away; and Jupiter is a staggering 577,000,000 miles from us. The distance from the Earth to Jupiter is almost 2300 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon, and even Venus is 600 times as distant as the Moon. Compared to the planets, the Moon is right in our backyard.

Although the Moon joins this conjunction only on the morning of August 23, Venus and Jupiter will appear close together for several days. In fact, on the morning of August 18, the two will be practically on top of one another, looking like a "double planet."

Sky Map August 2014

Sky map produced using Chris Marriott's Skymap Pro

Sky Map August 2014 PrintableClick for Printable August 23 Sky Map (PDF)
Just click, print, and bring outside!

 

 

August 31 Conjunction

The conjunction of August 31 occurs in the evening, just after sunset in the southwestern sky. The Moon is now a fat crescent with Saturn to its right and Mars to the lower left. If the sky conditions are good, you may be able to see a definite color difference between Saturn and Mars. The two planets are equally bright, but Saturn will appear more or less white while Mars should have a very pale orangish or yellowish color. The color of Mars reminds us why its nickname is "the Red Planet." During this conjunction, the Moon is 240,000 miles from Earth; Mars is 128,000,000 miles away; and Saturn is a fantastic 952,000,000 miles out. That puts Saturn almost 4,000 times farther from us than the Moon, even though the two appear near one another in the sky during this conjunction.

The Moon moves rapidly away from the two planets, and will be some distance to their upper left just one day later. But Saturn and Mars will remain near one another for many days, so you have plenty of chances to spot the color difference.

Sky Map August 2014

Sky map produced using Chris Marriott's Skymap Pro

Sky Map August 2014 PrintableClick for Printable August 31 Sky Map (PDF)
Just click, print, and bring outside!

 

 

See our Sky Watch page for highlights of the monthly sky, courtesy of The Old Farmer's Almanac.

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Comments

Need 2014 planting above

By Anita Logan on September 1

Need 2014 planting above ground crops, wheat

At ~11p PST, looking SW from

By reba luca

At ~11p PST, looking SW from Dallas, OR, I saw a bright circular white light and then it started to go across the sky like a trail, but this trail was green. Only lasted for a few seconds. Was this a shooting star?

No... there has never been an

By Kevin Howell

No... there has never been an image of our galaxy, The Milky Way, taken from outside of the galaxy--at least by humans. The time it would take to send a space craft that distance, and receive the image back is longer than our history of launching things into space.

In fact, most of what we know--or suspect--about our galaxy is deduced from studying other spiral galaxies. We don't even know how many arms our galaxy has.

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