Sun: Early August has sunrises about 6:15 a.m., sunsets about 8:32 p.m. with daily sunlight for 14 hours and 17 minutes.
The sun is in Cancer through Aug. 9, then shifting to Leo for the rest of August. Late August has sunrise about 6:42 a.m. and sunsets about 7:48 p.m. with daily sunlight for 13 hours and 6 minutes.
Moon: Early August has the moon in the morning sky. On Aug. 8, the moon nearly lines up with the sun (new moon). Following are 2 weeks of the moon’s lighted width growing in the evening sky (called waxing moon).
On Aug. 10, the crescent moon and the brilliant planet Venus appear side by side in the western dusk. On Aug. 14, the evening moon appears half full (like a “D”) in the southwestern sky. Along the moon’s left edge, the sun there is rising, lighting up the raised rims of the craters and mountains.
For this reason, mid August evenings are prime time for spotting our moon’s rugged terrain with a telescope. Each evening, the moon moves about 13 degrees eastward along its path, moving about 1 lunar width each hour.
On the evening of Aug. 20, the moon will appear below the planet Saturn. On the next evening, the moon will be below the bright planet Jupiter. The moon is full on Aug. 22, displaying its gaey lava plains (seen as the “man” or “woman” in the moon).
By Aug. 29, the morning moon will appear half full (like a reversed “D”) in the southern dawn.
Planets: Two planets are at their closest and brightest in August. On Aug. 1, Saturn is opposite the sun, rising about sunset and staying in view all through the night.
Saturn will then be about 831 million miles from the Earth, so distant that sunlight from its rings and clouds takes about 74 minutes to reach Earth. A telescope magnifying 40 power will allow you to see Saturn as a tiny ball with encircling rings.
On Aug. 19, the planet Jupiter will be 373 million miles from the Earth or about 33 light minutes away. (For comparison, our sun is 8.3 light minutes away from Earth.)
Just as Saturn, Jupiter when closest will stay in view all through the night. Jupiter is about 10 times as bright as Saturn due to its larger size and closer distance to both the Earth and the sun.
Jupiter has 4 large moons, seen as tiny points of light on either or both sides of the planet with a modest telescope. A bigger telescope will show 2 bands on Jupiter’s disk, clouds whipped by the planet’s rapid rotation, less than 10 hours for a day on Jupiter.
Venus is the brilliant point of light in the western dusk. As Venus approaches us, we see less of her sunlit side but its intensity grows so her brightness is nearly constant.
Evening stars: The most prominent star pattern is the Summer Triangle, a huge trio of bright stars high in the East.
Its brightest star is Vega, a white-blue sun whose light takes 25 years to reach Earth. The most southerly Triangle star is Altair, at a distance of 17 light years. The dimmest Triangle star is Deneb, below and to the left of Vega. This star’s light takes 1,400 years to reach Earth, having left that star around the year 600 A.D. o