Sky Maps (Star Charts): August 2015

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Find your way around the night sky! Below is a free sky map for AUGUST 2015 as well as a printable version, courtesy of astronomer Jeff DeTray.

Sky Map for AUGUST 2015

Each month, Jeff’s Sky Maps provides a sky map which highlights beautiful events in the evening sky—stars, constellations, planets, conjunctions with the Moon, meteor showers, and other amazing celestial objects. Follow more of Jeff’s sky adventures at AstronomyBoy.com.

 

Click-and-Print Sky Map

 

Just click here or on the image below to open the printable map—then bring outside!

August Sky Map printable

Sky Map Highlights: August 2015

Saturn, the Moon, and a Comet’s Legacy

If you ask people to name their favorite planet (apart from Earth!), Saturn usually tops the list of responses. It’s easy to see why. Through a telescope or in photos taken through one, the Ringed Planet is like nothing else.

When we view Saturn with unaided eyes, it appears as a bright dot in the sky. It looks very much like a star, so finding Saturn can be tricky. However, on the night of August 22, our friend the Moon will help us determine which of the thousands of lights in the sky is the planet Saturn.

Look to the southwest about 1 hour after sunset and find the first quarter Moon—“first quarter” because the Moon is one-quarter of the way through its monthly orbit around Earth. On this night, the face of the Moon that we can see is exactly half-illuminated. Just to the lower right of the Moon is Saturn, the brightest object in this region of the sky, other than the Moon.

Saturn will remain near this location for many weeks, while the Moon speeds eastward, leaving Saturn behind. Just one night later (August 23), the Moon will be halfway to the Teapot asterism, outlined in blue on this month’s map.

The Perseids Meteor Shower

The Perseids Meteor Shower occurs every August, peaking on the night of August 12–13. This year, the Moon is cooperating; it is near its “new” phase during the Perseids. A new Moon occurs when the illuminated side of the Moon is turned away from Earth, resulting in especially dark skies, perfect for viewing. Because the shower is occurring near the new Moon, this should be the best showing of the Perseids for several years—provided, of course, that the weather also cooperates.

Meteors, or shooting stars, occur when Earth rushes through a stream of dust and debris left behind by a passing comet. When the bits strike Earth’s upper atmosphere, friction with the air causes each particle to heat and burn up. We see the result as a meteor. See more facts about meteor showers.

The Perseids are the legacy of Comet Swift-Tuttle, discovered in 1862 by Lewis Swift and Horace Parnell Tuttle. The comet passes through the inner Solar System, where Earth is located only once every 133 years. Each August, Earth encounters the trail of debris left behind by Swift-Tuttle, and we are treated to one of the best meteor showers of the year.
Watching a meteor shower could not be simpler. Just go outside on the night of August 12 and look up! You can maximize your chances of seeing meteors by finding an open area far from man-made lights

Being comfortable is important. To avoid a stiff neck, bring a chaise lounge or reclining lawn chair. A sleeping bag on the ground works, too. Find a slight incline so that your head will be higher than your feet. Dress warmly; you’ll be surprised how chilly it will get, even in August. When you are sitting or lying outside at night, your body heat radiates directly into the sky. Bring a hat, too. See more Meteor Shower information and viewing tips.

The meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, but you’ll have the best luck by gazing at whatever part of the sky is darkest at your location. The best time to watch is between midnight and dawn. Doing it with family and friends makes the difference between a lonely vigil and an adventure. Have fun!

AUGUST 2015 Sky Map: Click to View PDF

Sky Map August 2015

Sky map produced using Chris Marriott’s Skymap Pro

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

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The "Two Moon" story

The "Two Moon" story involving Mars is a hoax. Mars never has and never will appear as large as the Moon. There will never be a "double moon" in the sky.

This hoax resurfaces every year in August and is spread via email and social media. The hoax gained popularity in August 2003 when Mars was as close to Earth as it had been in 60,000 years and did appear somewhat brighter than normal. However, the term "close" in that case meant Mars was still 35 million miles from Earth and looked like a fairly bright star -- nothing more than that.

Every August the Mars Hoax emails begin all over again, and people think they are about to see something spectacular. Sadly, this is not true!

Jeff DeTray
www.AstronomyBoy.com

What time will mars be

What time will mars be visible on the 27th? I know it won't be as big as the moon, I'm just curious

You may be able to see Mars

You may be able to see Mars very low in the East shortly before sunrise -- around 5:30 a.m. You'll want to observe from a location with a good view to the East and without any tall trees or buildings in that direction.

About 45 minutes after Mars rises in the East, Venus will also rise above the Eastern horizon in the same area. The sky will be getting rather bright by then as sunrise nears, but Venus is bright enough to be seen anyway -- much brighter than Mars.

Before sunrise, Mars and Venus will be the brightest objects near the Eastern horizon. You do not have to wait until August 27 -- the two planets are near one another now and well into September.

Jeff DeTray
www.AstronomyBoy.com

I have heard a lot of talk on

I have heard a lot of talk on two moons on Aug 27, 2015. One is the Moon and the other is Mars. From what I've heard, no one alive has ever seen this and it won't happen again until 2287.
I find this fascinating! Any more information ??
Thank you,

Judylynn

Rockville, MD

Hi Wanda, As jmwilson says,

Hi Wanda,

As jmwilson says, you most likely saw a meteor. From your description, it sounds like you saw a type of meteor known as a "fireball." Whereas most meteors appear as a thin streak of light, a fireball is much more impressive, often leaving an afterglow that may persist for a minute or two.

There were at least two other reports of fireballs visible from your part of the country on the night of August 3rd. So you are not the only person who saw it.

Shooting stars, falling stars, fireballs -- they are all meteors. On the night of August 12-13, the best meteor shower of the year will occur. This is the annual Perseid Meteor Shower. The best time to view it is from midnight onward though you will likely see quite a few meteors earlier in the evening.

To view the Perseids, find a large area of open sky and simply look up. The meteors may appear anywhere in the sky.

Jeff DeTray
www.AstronomyBoy.com

I live in Piedmont,Mo. UFO

I live in Piedmont,Mo. UFO country.. I have seen many shooting stars for the few weeks. but,last night the brightest s star ever. was wide and bright and kinda in slow motion, it lit up the whole sky. anyone else see this? and how can i be sure it was astar? it was kindda scary,amazing and then WOWSIER!

Hi Wanda; A "shooting star'

Hi Wanda; A "shooting star' is not actually a star. It is a meteor burning up from the friction created as it as decends through Earth's atmosphere. Most are dust/debris left behind from melting/evaporating comets on their long orbits around the Sun. As the Earth's orbital path transects the debris trail left by the long-gone comet, the dust/debris gets caught by Earth's gravity snd incinerates while passing through our atmosphere. Very few survive the inferno to reach Earth's surface, to become meteorites. Because humans have studied the skies and recorded their observations, we can calculate when Earth will pass through certain old comet trails and where in the night sky to look for the incoming flares (like the Perseid meteor shower coming up this week). If you live in a dark-sky area (away from city lights) you'll see many more than those of us who live near suburban sprawl. But comet trails are not the only flashy things you may see, some streaks you see may actually be the streak of reflected sunlight as the International Space Station or some satelite passes over your area at just the right angle (you can look up when to see those on the NASA website). Plus there is lots of other random space debris out there that gets pulled in and burned up.
Enjoy the show!

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