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Night Sky Sights

August 2020: Planets & Perseids

The Perseids are upon us — and as you're looking out for shooting stars, look for Jupiter and Saturn low in the southeast as soon as night begins to fall.

This Week's Sky at a Glance logo

This Week's Sky At a Glance

This Week's Sky at a Glance, July 31 – August 8

Mars rises in the east around 11 p.m. daylight saving time this week, in Pisces. Watch for it to come up below the Great Square of Pegasus. By dawn Mars shines grandly high and bright in the south, a far-off bonfire in the heavens. In a telescope Mars grows from 14½ to 15½ arcseconds in apparent diameter, as big as it appears at some oppositions! But we're still speeding toward it along Earth's faster orbit around the Sun. Around this year's opposition in early October, Mars will be 22.6 arcseconds wide.

Looking back at Pluto

Planets

Cool Off with Pluto This Summer

Pluto might be a challenging target but it's well worth the effort. Grab your telescope and see if you can spot this distant, chilly world.

Planets

Ice Giants: Neptune and Uranus

Spot Uranus and Neptune, and relive the original discoveries.

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This Week's Sky At a Glance

This Week's Sky at a Glance, July 24 – August 1

All this summer, there's no missing Jupiter and Saturn on any clear evening. Jupiter is the brightest point in the evening sky. Saturn is left of it. They're in the southeast at dusk, higher in the south later in the night. Meanwhile in the west, bright Arcturus shines a little less high each week. Most of its constellation Bootes extends to its upper right.

people in a small boat pass in front of a large iceberg

Celestial News & Events

500 Days Until the Total Solar Eclipse Over Antarctica

Travel to the ends of the Earth to experience a special — but risky — total solar eclipse in Antarctica.

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This Week's Sky At a Glance

This Week's Sky at a Glance, July 17 – 25

The waxing crescent Moon swells back into the evening sky this week. Jupiter and Saturn are at opposition on the nights of July 13th and 20th, respectively -- so they rise around sunset, loom low in the southeast in twilight, and climb as the evening grows late. Jupiter is brightest; Saturn is 7° to its lower left. By late night they look like a pair of uneven eyes looking down at the world.

Sharing Comet NEOWISE

Celestial Objects to Observe

Comet NEOWISE Dazzles at Dusk

Comet NEOWISE has captivated skywatchers with its stunning tail. Now that it's moved into the evening sky and climbing higher each night even more people will get a chance to see it.

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This Week's Sky At a Glance

This Week's Sky at a Glance, July 10 – 18

Jupiter and Saturn rise in twilight this week. Mars is a fire-beacon high in the southeast by the beginning of dawn. Venus, low as dawn begins to brighten, passes just 1° from Aldebaran on Saturday and Sunday mornings July 11th and 12th.

Comet NEOWISE

Celestial News & Events

Comet NEOWISE Delights at Dawn

Skywatchers are treated to a naked-eye comet as NEOWISE emerges into the the dawn sky.

M85 supernova

Explore the Night with Bob King

Two Bright Supernovae Light Up Nearby Galaxies

Two bright new supernovae — 2020nlb in M85 and 2020nvb in NGC 4457 — are now within the range of amateur telescopes in the western sky at nightfall.

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This Week's Sky At a Glance

This Week's Sky at a Glance, July 3 – 11

This is the time of year when the two brightest stars of summer, Arcturus and Vega, are equally high overhead at dusk. Arcturus is toward the southwest, Vega is toward the east. Arcturus and Vega are 37 and 25 light-years away, respectively. They represent the two commonest types of naked-eye stars: a yellow-orange K giant and a white A main-sequence star. They're 150 and 50 times brighter than the Sun, respectively — which, combined with their nearness, is why they dominate the high evening sky.

Lemmon in bloom

Comets

Anticipation Grows for Comets NEOWISE and Lemmon

Two comets spark excitement for the coming week — NEOWISE might reach naked-eye visibility at dawn, while Lemmon will be visible in binoculars at dusk.

Moon-Jupiter-Saturn in July 2020

Night Sky Sights

July 2020: Welcome Jupiter & Saturn

July's 11-minute Sky Tour astronomy podcast describes what to see in the summer sky in a casual, engaging way that your whole family can enjoy.

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This Week's Sky At a Glance

This Week's Sky at a Glance, June 26 – July 4

Every morning now, Venus is getting a little higher and easier to spot in the east-northeast as dawn brightens

Crescent Moon near Gemini

This Week's Sky At a Glance

This Week's Sky at a Glance, June 19 – 27

Leo the Lion is mostly a constellation of late winter and spring. But he's not gone yet. As twilight ends look due west, somewhat low, for Regulus, his brightest and now lowest star: the forefoot of the Lion stick figure. The Sickle of Leo extends upper right from Regulus. The rest of the Lion's constellation figure extends for almost three fists to the upper left, to his tail star Denebola, the highest. He'll soon be treading away into the sunset.

Two crescents meet

Occultations

Watch the Moon Pair Up with Venus on June 19th

Two crescents — the Moon and Venus — meet in the sky in the wee hours of June 19th.

Noctilucent clouds in British Columbia

Celestial News & Events

Nights of Noctilucent Clouds

Noctilucent clouds shimmer high in the sky during summer twilight at northerly latitudes.

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This Week's Sky At a Glance

This Week's Sky at a Glance, June 12 – 20

As we count down the days to official summer (the solstice is June 20th), the big Summer Triangle shines high and proud in the east after dark. Its top star is bright Vega. Deneb is the brightest star to Vega's lower left. Look for Altair farther to Vega's lower right.

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This Week's Sky At a Glance

This Week's Sky at a Glance, June 5 – 13

FRIDAY, JUNE 5 ■ Catch Mercury in twilight! It's under Pollux and Castor this week, as shown below. Mercury is ending its last good evening showing until winter 2021. Mercury is still visible in the western twilight, under the heads of Gemini, but it's fading. This scene is drawn for…

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