Some daily events in the changing sky for August 1 – 9.
Friday, August 1
Saturday, August 2
Sunday, August 3
Monday, August 4
Tuesday, August 5
Wednesday, August 6
Thursday, August 7
Friday, August 8
Saturday, August 9
Want to become a better amateur astronomer? Learn your way around the constellations. They're the key to locating everything fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope. For an easy-to-use constellation guide covering the whole evening sky, use the big monthly foldout map in each issue of Sky & Telescope, the essential magazine of astronomy. Or download our free Getting Started in Astronomy booklet (which only has bimonthly maps).
Once you get a telescope, to put it to good use you'll need a detailed, large-scale sky atlas (set of maps; the standards are Sky Atlas 2000.0 or the smaller Pocket Sky Atlas) and good deep-sky guidebooks (such as Sky Atlas 2000.0 Companion by Strong and Sinnott, the even more detailed Night Sky Observer's Guide by Kepple and Sanner, or the classic Burnham's Celestial Handbook). Read how to use them effectively.
More beginners' tips: "How to Start Right in Astronomy".
This Week's Planet Roundup
Mercury is hidden in the glare of the Sun.
Venus (magnitude –3.9) is still deep in the glow of sunset. Look for it just above the west-northwest horizon about 30 minutes after sundown, as shown at the top of this page. Using binoculars, can you spot Regulus close by?
Very slowly, Venus is making its way upward for a grand "Evening Star" showing in late fall and winter.
Mars and Saturn (magnitudes +1.7 and +0.8) are getting farther apart and sinking lower in the evening twilight, as shown at the top of this page.
Jupiter (magnitude –2.7, in Sagittarius) shines with a steady glare in the southeast to south during evening. It's upper left of the Sagittarius Teapot and just below the bowl of the smaller, dimmer Teaspoon. It's highest around 10 or 11 p.m. daylight saving time.
Uranus and Neptune (magnitudes 5.7 and 7.8, respectively, in Aquarius and Capricornus) are well up in the southeast by 11 or midnight. Neptune this week is near 42 Capricorni and h5291, as described under August 3 above. Use our article and finder charts.
Pluto (magnitude 14.0, in the northwestern corner of Sagittarius) is in the south during the evening. If you've got a big scope and a dark sky, use our article and finder chart.
All descriptions that relate to your horizon or zenith — including the words up, down, right, and left — are written for the world's mid-northern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude (mainly Moon positions) are for North America. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) equals Universal Time (UT, UTC, or GMT) minus 4 hours.
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