Bright Planets and the Moon in August
Welcome to the Sky Watch for August 2019. Bright Jupiter and Saturn are wonderfully positioned this month. See more highlights of the night sky by Almanac astronomer Bob Berman.
Sky Watch August 2019
by Bob Berman, as featured in The 2019 Old Farmer’s Almanac
Venus passes behind the Sun in superior conjunction on the 14th, marking its transition to an evening star for the rest of the year. It is 5 degrees from the Sun even at month’s end and hopelessly lost in solar glare.
Mars is lost behind the Sun, too.
Jupiter and Saturn are wonderfully positioned at nightfall, in the south. Although both have far southern declinations and neither ascends more than a third of the way up the sky this year, they are both easy viewing targets all night long throughout the summer.
- Jupiter (the second-brightest planet after Venus) reigns the night sky, now that Venus is lost in the Sun’s glare. The Giant Planet is already well up when night begins and sets in the wee morning hours. Jupiter is far brighter than Saturn, outshining the Ringed Planet by a good 10 times.
- Saturn appears at nightfall, staying out for most of the night well to the east of Jupiter. Saturn sets at about the time of dawn’s first light (astronomical twilight) in early August.
Mercury, the innermost planet, makes a rare appearance on August 9 just as the morning darkness gives way to dawn. You should also be able to see Mercury the days prior and after the 9th. See our free printable August Sky Map which highlights planet Mercury!
The Moon is always an easy guide to the planets. The nearly-full Moon will swing by the planets Jupiter and Saturn on August 9, 10 and 11.
Moon + Jupiter Conjunction August 9
- In planet spotting this month, the Moon pairs up with Jupiter in the evening sky on August 9. When the Sun goes down on Friday evening, step outside and look south. The giant planet and the waxing gibbous Moon will be only a few degrees apart. Look just before the evening sky fades to black for a bright conjunction framed by twilight blue!
Moon + Saturn Conjunction
- Then the Moon visits with Saturn on August 11! The fat gibbous Moon hovers to the right of the Ringed Planet on the 11th and to its left on the 12th.