Autumn Stargazing

Astronomers often question which season is best for stargazing. Everyone has their favourite time of the year and favourite constellations to see.  I firmly believe, August-October is a wonderful time to explore the night sky: It is warm enough in the evening for young people. And last but not least, it is already starting to get darker earlier, so that you don’t have to wait that long to see the stars!

So what can we see this month?

Planets

The gas giants, Jupiter and Saturn, can be seen in the evening sky this year in August.

Do your “homework” and have a look at online star map (Stellarium is a great one) to find out what you can expect to see in the sky and where.  If you have your mobile to hand Google sky map is good (provided it is properly orientated – turn it to red to keep your dark adaptation)

August constellations

In addition to the circumpolar constellation, that you can see all year round, like Ursa Major (the Plough or Saucepan) and Ursa Minor (with the Pole Star Polaris at its tail), look out for the Northern Hemisphere Summer constellations. Try to find constellation Lyra, the harp. It’s blue-white star Vega is the 5th brightest in the sky and hard to miss.

Look south after the sunset to spot the S-shaped constellation Scorpius, the scorpion. The brightest star in Scorpius is red. That’s supergiant Antares, “the heart of the scorpion”. In the UK Scorpius never fully gets over the Southern Horizon.

Hurry up, Scorpius will be gone soon and Orion will take over the sky in November!

The Moon

The Moon is oh-so-beautiful and ever changing celestial object. Right now it is more than half full and still growing (a Waxing Gibbous Moon). The upcoming phases are

Full Moon 15 August 

Last Quarter 23 August 

New Moon 30 August. 

By the way, the August Full Moon is called the Grain Moon in the UK (september is the Fruit and October the Harvest moon)

So…there are planets to see, shooting stars to catch, the Moon to admire and constellations to glimpse before they disappear till the next Summer. Get out there are go Stargazing!

As always, send all your questions and comments to Me . I would love to hear from you!

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