To watch out for in the night sky this week
Every Monday, I pick the northern hemisphere celestial highlights (northern mid-latitudes) for the week ahead, but be sure to check out my main feed for more in-depth articles on stargazing, astronomy and eclipses.
To watch out for in the night sky this week: August 3-9, 2020
This week begins with Monday’s full moon, known as the “sturgeon moon,” “red moon, and” grain moon, “among many other names. Whatever its name, its sunrise and sunset when full will be near sunset and sunrise, respectively.
In a clear sky, it will be magnificent.
So will the waning Full Moon assault on Mars later this week when, on Saturday and Sunday, it is 0.8 degrees from the “red planet.” This is what astronomers call a occultation. Thursday will also see Mars at perihelion– closest to the Sun in 2020 – and there is a chance to see Venus and Mercury.
It is also an excellent week to discover the magnificent constellation of Delphinus, the Dauphin, near the “Summer Triangle” not to be missed. Everything is explained, timed and mapped below.
Monday August 3, 2020: ‘Sturgeon Moon’ and Mars closest to the Sun
The August full moon will be at 3:59 p.m. UTC, or 4:59 p.m. BST, 5:59 p.m. CEST, 11:59 a.m. EDT, and 8:59 a.m. PDT. However, to appreciate it you must ignore those hours and instead plan to watch it rise above the eastern horizon this evening after sunset. Only then will you see it rise up in the form of a briefly spectacular orange orb.
Known as the “Sturgeon Moon” by some Native American tribes and as the “Cereal Moon” in the UK, the August Full Moon will be visible all night and will hang relatively low in the sky. nocturnal.
However, the rising of the full moon takes place at a very specific time depending on your location, so do check the exact time of moonrise where you are and set aside 30 minutes from this rise time to observe. Be patient! This will appear … unless the clouds do so first.
Mars is also at perihelion today – the point in its orbit where it comes closest to the Sun – which potentially sets off fierce dust storms on the Red Planet.
Friday August 7 and Saturday August 8, 2020: Moonrise and March rise
A waning gibbous moon, illuminated at 73%, will make an apparent approach very close to Mars tonight. Look east around midnight (so early Saturday). Only those in North America will see the closest conjunction, around 4 a.m. EDT on the morning of Saturday, August 8.
However, anyone can catch the two bodies of the solar system seemingly close to each other in the east after sunset on Friday, before sunrise on Saturday, or after sunset on Saturday.
Sunday August 9, 2020: Mercury and Venus
This morning it’s worth looking at Venus and trying Mercury before sunrise. If you’ve never seen the smallest planet in the solar system with the naked eye, look just before sunrise in a northeast direction using binoculars to find this tiny red dot of a world. Be careful not point your binoculars at the Sun as it rises. Venus will be much easier to find above.
Constellation of the week: Delphinus
One of the smallest constellations in the night sky, Delphinus, the Dauphin, is – in my opinion – also one of the most beautiful. It is in the constellation Aquarius, but close to the “Summer Triangle” much easier to find. Best found in the summer sky, Delphinus sheds much like a dolphin, but more like a diamond.
I wish you clear skies and big eyes.