2020, August 30: Morning Sky Ablaze

Venus and the stars during morning twilight, August 30, 2020
2020, August 30: Venus and a bright contingent of bright stars – Castor, Pollux, Procyon, Sirius, Rigel and Betelgeuse appear in the morning sky.

During morning twilight, the sky is ablaze with Venus, Mars, Sirius, and bright stars.

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

The late August morning sky is on fire with Venus, Mars, and several bright stars.  In the image above, Venus appears in the eastern sky with Castor, Pollux, Procyon, Sirius, Betelgeuse, and Castor.  Now two weeks after its first appearance in the morning sky, Sirius is easy to locate in the east-southeast.

Mars in Pisces, August 30, 2020
2020, August 30: Mars continues to march eastward in Pisces. This morning the Red Planet is 1.6° to the upper left of Nu Piscium (ν Psc) and 2.7° below Omicron Piscium (ο Psc).

The Red Planet is high in the southern sky among the dim stars of Pisces.  The planet continues to brighten as Earth approaches it.  Mars is less than 47 million miles away this morning.

Mars continues its eastward march among the stars.  On September 9, Mars seems to end its eastward direction and appears to move westward compared to the stars, in what is known as retrograde motion.  This is an illusion from our faster moving world overtaking a slower moving Mars and passing between the Red Planet and the sun, known as opposition (October 13, 2020).

Additionally, Mars orbit is not a perfect circle. A week before opposition, Earth and Mars are closest when they are about 39 million miles apart.  Even at this distance, Mars looks like an overly bright star in the sky.

In the photo above, Mars is 1.6° to the upper left of Nu Piscium (ν Psc) and 2.7° below Omicron Piscium (ο Psc).  East is to the left in the image, Mars continues to move eastward past ν Psc before it begins to retrograde.  When Earth and Mars are closest, the Red Planet appears near μ Psc.

Venus in Gemini, August 30
2020, August 30: Venus is is to the lower right of Pollux. The planet is 4.2° below Delta Geminorum (δ Gem) and 5.0° to the lower left of Lambda Geminorum (λ Gem).

Farther east, Venus sparkles from in front of the stars of Gemini.  It continues stepping eastward compared to the starry background.  This morning it is to the lower right of Pollux.  On the photo, the planet is 4.2° below Delta Geminorum (δ Gem) and 5.0° to the lower left of Lambda Geminorum (λ Gem).

Tomorrow morning, Venus makes a wide pass (8.6°) of Pollux.  Early next month, the planet moves into Cancer and a nice grouping with the moon and the Beehive star cluster on September 14.  It’s another camera-ready morning to see.

Here is a daily summary about the planets during August and September.

2021, May 13: The crescent moon is 3.2° to the upper left of Mercury.

2021, August 11: Waxing Moon, Evening Star

August 11, 2021:  The waxing crescent moon is to the upper left of Evening Star Venus this evening in the western sky.

The Crescent Moon, November 16, 2020

2021, August 10: Evening Star Venus, Crescent Moon

August 10, 2021:  The crescent moon is near Venus in the western sky after sunset.

2021, May 13: The crescent moon is 3.2° to the upper left of Mercury.

2021, August 9: Evening Moon, Mars

August 9, 2021: After the New moon yesterday morning, the crescent moon appears in the evening sky during bright twilight near Mars.

2021, May 13: Brilliant Venus, Mercury, and the crescent moon in the evening sky.

2021, August 3: Four Evening Planets: Venus, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter

August 3, 2021:  Four planets appear in the evening sky.  Brilliant Evening Star Venus and dim Mars are in the west after sunset.  A little later during the evening, Saturn and Jupiter are easily visible in the southeast.

Saturn (NASA)

2021, August 2: Saturn at Opposition

August 2, 2021: Saturn is at opposition with the sun.  Earth is between the sun and the planet.



Categories: Astronomy, Sky Watching

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