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Astronomy: August Observing Highlights

7-29-11 Scorpius and Antares Whitt-1 The constellation Scorpius is low in the south on summer evenings. The reddish star near center is Antares. Credit: Kelly Whitt

This August’s night sky will provide much in the way of peaceful contemplation. Begin the month under dark skies with a crescent moon that sets soon after sunset. The Perseid meteors will be steadily on the increase from month’s opening until the 12th, when they are supposed to peak. Unfortunately, the full moon on August 13 will outshine many of the meteors on the most active nights.

For the week following the 13th, the moon will be rising in twilight as it shrinks ever-so-slightly night to night. The last week and a half of August will return to dark evening skies as new moon approaches, allowing for excellent Milky Way viewing.

Saturn is still visible in the evening sky after sunset low in the west. It has been the planet to watch all summer and will continue to be so through most of September. But Jupiter is slowly rising in the east in late evening hours and will reach opposition in October.

Read more about the August Night Sky and how to track down two elusive solar system targets, Neptune and Vesta, or just enjoy the constellations of summer.

-- Kelly Kizer Whitt loves clean, clear, and dark skies. Kelly studied English and Astronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked for Astronomy magazine. She writes the SkyGuide for AstronomyToday.com. You can follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/Astronomommy.

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