Weekly Stargazing Tips

Provided by StarDate.org. Unless otherwise specified, viewing times are local time regardless of time zone, and are good for the entire Lower 48 states (and, generally, for Alaska and Hawaii).

August 11: Moon and Saturn

Saturn is close to the upper left of the Moon as they rise, shortly after nightfall. The Sun’s second-largest planet will reach opposition on the 14th, putting on its best showing for the entire year. Saturn looks like a bright golden star.

August 12: Perseid Meteors

The Perseid meteor shower should reach its peak tonight. But an almost-full Moon will overpower all but the brightest meteors. The Moon is especially close, making it especially bright, so it’s an even bigger hindrance.

August 13: Celestial Sea

The Moon swims through the celestial “sea” tonight, which is a group of constellations related to water. As darkness falls, the Moon is near the eastern edge of Aquarius the water bearer, which stretches to the right and upper right of the Moon.

August 14: Moon and Jupiter

The planet Jupiter stays close to the Moon tonight. They climb into good view by about 11 p.m. and arc across the south later on. Jupiter looks like a brilliant star to the right or upper right of the Moon.

August 15: Wow!

In 1977, a radio telescope detected the “wow!” signal, which is considered the most likely signal from an extraterrestrial civilization. It was to the left of the teapot outlined by the stars of Sagittarius, which is low in the south at nightfall. Subsequent searchers have turned up empty.

August 16: Steamy Nights

The middle of summer may not be the best time for a steaming pot of tea, but that’s just what the night sky offers. The brightest stars of Sagittarius, which is in the south at nightfall, form the outline of a teapot. The hazy Milky Way seems to form puffs of steam from the spout.

August 17: Moon and Uranus

The Moon takes dead aim at the planet Uranus tonight. The Sun’s seventh planet will be close to the lower left of the Moon as they climb into good view, around midnight. You need binoculars or a telescope to see the planet. It looks like a faint star with a hint of green.