Last Quarter: 3rd
New Moon: 9th
First Quarter: 17th
Full Moon: 25th
MERCURY is visible low above the ENE horizon for about 45 minutes before sunrise during the first few days of the month, shining quite brightly at magnitude -1.0. On the 6th, Mercury will be very close to the bright star Regulus. By the middle of the month it will become lost in the glare as it moves even closer to the Sun. At best it is close to the Sun so the chance to see it doesn’t last long. Binoculars are the best way to spot it.
Venus remains very bright in the evening sky around sunset, but continues to sink lower and lower as time goes by. Look for it in the WSW before sunset. It sets about 70 minutes after the Sun. It is very bright but increasingly will be fighting the Sun’s glare. Later in the month binoculars may be required to spot the planet. Still, a thing of great beauty!
MARS Past Opposition, but still great!
It’s true that Earth and Mars are now pulling away from each other but Mars still looks really, really great in the night sky and will for a while to come! Mars was engulfed in a major dust storm during August, blocking all surface details. That said, the dust storm on Mars is significantly improving but has not yet fully subsided. A small telescope may reveal major surface details if seeing conditions continue to improve. Look for Mars at an elevation of about 14 degrees ESE where it will shine at magnitude -2.1, reducing to only -1.3 or so by month’s end…plenty bright! At the beginning of the month Mars rises around 8:30 pm and sets at 5 am. Towards the end of August Mars sets around 2:30 am.
The King reached opposition back on May 8th, and continues to get smaller as distance grows between us. Still he is The King and will be visible early in the evening, setting around 10 pm at the beginning of the month and about 8:30 pm by the end. It is still quite bright; around magnitude -1.9. Jupiter’s equatorial bands, the four Gallilean moons, and sometimes the Great Red Spot should make for a fun view through even a small telescope. All that said, Jupiter is now quite low on the southern horizon, so viewing is not going to be so good due to the thickness of Earth’s atmosphere at that elevation.
Saturn sets around 1 am at the beginning of the month, and about sets about 11 pm at the end. The rings are still at a great angle, but the problem is the same as with Jupiter…it will be very low in the sky, never getting above 15 degrees so you will be looking through a good deal of Earth’s atmosphere while viewing it.
Uranus, rises around 9:30 pm at the start of the month and 7:30 pm at the end of the month. It is visible all night and will be a binocular target throughout September. Use a tripod to steady the binoculars.
Rises around 7:45 pm at the beginning of the month and 5:45 pm at the end, and therefore should be visible all night, and should be fairly high in the sky. That said, make no mistake that it is not easy and you will likely need a telescopes of 8-inch and larger apertures to resolve the planet.