(CBS DETROIT) – August 2020 brings multiple opportunities to see the Moon posing with other planets and meteors, according to NASA.
On Aug. 12, the annual Perseid meteor shower peaks in the morning. The last-quarter moon will interfere with visibility of most fainter Perseid meteors this year, but NASA says you’ll still be able to see a few brighter ones, including the occasional “fireball.”
The best time to look is in the pre-dawn hours on Aug. 12, but midnight to dawn any morning the week before or after should produce a few meteors.
In the hour before sunrise, look for Venus in the east on Aug. 15 just a couple of finger widths apart from the crescent Moon. NASA says if you take a look before the sky gets too bright, you’ll see the duo surrounded that morning by a ring of bright stars.
Here’s your daily guide from NASA:
On Wednesday morning, the planet Mercury will be just rising about 30 minutes before sunrise, an approximation of when it will start being too close to dawn to see in the morning. Mercury will pass on the far side of the Sun as seen from the Earth five days later.
On Wednesday, the planet Venus will appear at its greatest separation from the Sun as seen from the Earth in the morning sky, called its greatest western elongation. Because the angle of the line between the Sun and Venus and the horizon is becoming more perpendicular, the date when Venus and the Sun appear farthest apart as seen from the Earth is not the same as when Venus is highest above the horizon as morning twilight begins. This occurs in early September.
On Thursday morning, the bright star Aldebaran will appear about 4 degrees below the waning crescent Moon. For the Washington, DC area, Aldebaran will rise below the Moon in the east-northeast at 1:18 a.m. EDT, and will be to the lower right of the Moon in the east-southeast as morning twilight begins around 5:17 a.m.
On Saturday morning, the bright planet Venus will appear below the waning crescent Moon. For the Washington, DC area, Venus will rise about 4 degrees below the Moon in the east-northeast at 2:50 a.m. EDT, and the pair will appear about 30 degrees above the horizon in the east as morning twilight begins around 5:19 a.m.
On Sunday morning, the bright star Pollux (the brighter of the twins in the constellation Gemini) will appear about 8 degrees to the left of the waning crescent Moon. For the Washington, DC area, Pollux will rise in the northeast at 3:29 a.m. EDT and the pair will appear about 20 degrees above the horizon in the east-northeast as morning twilight begins at 5:20 a.m.
On Monday morning, the planet Mercury will pass on the far side of the Sun as seen from the Earth, called superior conjunction. Because Mercury orbits inside of the orbit of Earth, it will be shifting from the morning sky to the evening sky and will begin emerging from the glow of the dusk on the western horizon around August 29, 2020 (depending upon viewing conditions).
August 18: “Black Moon”
Tuesday evening, at 10:41 p.m. EDT, will be the new Moon, when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from the Earth. This will be the third new Moon in a season with four new Moons, so (following the analogy for naming Blue Moons) some now call this a “Black Moon.”
The day of or the day after the New Moon typically marks the start of the new month for most lunisolar calendars. The seventh month of the Chinese calendar starts on Wednesday, August 19, 2020 (at midnight in China’s time zone, which is 12 hours ahead of EDT). In the Islamic calendar the months traditionally start with the first sighting of the waxing crescent Moon after the New Moon, although many Muslim communities now follow the Umm al-Qura Calendar of Saudi Arabia, which uses astronomical calculations to start months in a more predictable way. Sunset on Wednesday, August 19, 2020, will probably mark the beginning of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic year, one of the four sacred months in which warfare is forbidden. Sundown on Thursday, July 20, 2020, marks the start of Elul in the Hebrew calendar.
On Friday morning at 6:58 a.m. EDT, the Moon will be at perigee, its closest to the Earth for this orbit.
The 10-day celebration of Onam in Kerala, India, will begin on Saturday, August 22, and end on the day of the next full Moon on September 2, 2020.
On Saturday evening, the bright star appearing to the lower left of the waxing crescent Moon will be Spica. For the Washington, DC area, as evening twilight ends at 8:54 p.m. EDT, the Moon will appear in the west-southwest at about 15 degrees above the horizon. Spica will set first at about 9:52 p.m.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Moon will appear half-full as it reaches its first quarter at 1:58 p.m. EDT.
There are approximately 7 days between each phase of the Moon, so the first quarter Moon tends to occur on the 7th day of a lunisolar month. Tuesday, August 25, 2020, will be the seventh day of the seventh month of the Chinese calendar. The seventh night of the seventh month is known as the double seventh festival, Qixi in China, Chilseok in Korea, Thất Tịch in Vietnam, and is sometimes called the Chinese Valentine’s Day. There are many variations on the legend, but basically, they involve the three bright stars we know as the “Summer Triangle” and the Milky Way. Vega represents the weaver girl and the bright star Altair represents the cowherd. They fall in love and neglect their duties, so the Goddess of Heaven puts a wide river in the sky, represented by the Milky Way, to keep them apart. They are allowed to meet only one night a year, on the seventh night of the seventh month, when the bright star Deneb forms a bridge across the Milky Way. In some versions of the legend, the bridge is formed by magpies, so this is sometimes called the Magpie Festival. The Japanese Tanabata or Star Festival is related, but is no longer tied to the lunisolar date (it is now celebrated on July 7, the double seventh of the Gregorian Calendar).
On Tuesday night, August 25, 2020, the bright star Antares will appear to the lower left of the waxing half-moon. For the Washington, DC area, as evening twilight ends at 8:49 p.m. EDT, the Moon will appear in the south-southwest about 26 degrees above the horizon, and Antares will set first in the southwest at 11:48 p.m.
August 28-September 2
On Friday night into Saturday morning, the bright planet Jupiter will appear near the waxing gibbous Moon, with the fainter planet Saturn appearing nearby. As evening twilight ends (at 8:44 p.m. EDT for the Washington, DC area) the Moon will appear in the south-southeast about 24 degrees above the horizon, with Jupiter appearing about 2 degrees above the Moon and Saturn appearing about 9 degrees to the left. The Moon will reach its highest in the sky for the night at 9:55 p.m., appearing in the south about 26 degrees above the horizon. Jupiter and the Moon will set together in the west-southwest Saturday morning at 2:38 a.m., with Jupiter on the right and Saturn above the Moon.
Saturday evening will be (for the Washington, DC area, at least) the first evening when Mercury will still be above the horizon about 30 minutes after sunset, an approximation of when it will start being visible in the evening sky after sunset.
Saturday evening into Sunday morning, the planet Saturn will appear near the waxing gibbous Moon, with the brighter planet Jupiter also appearing nearby. For the Washington, DC area, as evening twilight ends at 8:42 PM EDT, the Moon will appear in the south-southeast about 21 degrees above the horizon, with Saturn appearing to the upper right of the Moon and Jupiter appearing farther to the right. The Moon will reach its highest in the sky for the night at 10:49 PM and Jupiter will set first in the west-southwest Sunday morning at 2:34 AM.
The full Moon after next will be early on Wednesday morning, September 2, 2020.
For more information on skywatching tips from NASA, visit here.