Ask a skywatcher what’s special about August, and the response will likely be the Perseid meteor shower. These “shooting stars” are caused when little bits of grit shed by Comet Swift-Tuttle slam into our atmosphere. Every August, we plow right through this stream of dusty debris.

Evening sky in mid-August

In mid-August the crescent Moon joins two bright planets and a bright star low in the west after sunset.

Sky & Telescope illustration

If you manage to stay up until the hours before dawn, you’ll be rewarded with sightings of Jupiter, dazzling Venus, and, around midmonth, Mercury lurking down by the eastern horizon about an hour before sunrise.

Meanwhile, Mars and Saturn are the two bright planets low in the evening sky. They're joined by Spica, and all three are nearly the same brightness.

This will be a busy month for stargazing, and to get a personally guided tour you can download August's 7-minute-long audio sky tour. It's a 7-MB MP3 file. Enjoy!


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