Brilliant Venus and Mars shine in the morning sky. Venus is in Orion and the gibbous moon appears near Mars.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
This morning, Venus reaches its earliest rising time (2:25 a.m. CDT, Chicago, Illinois). It rises at this time through August 17. This morning it is in the club area of Orion. The brilliant planet is 0.5° below Chi2 Orionis (χ2 Ori on the photo). With a binocular, watch it move farther from the star, toward the lower left in the photo.
This time is short to see four planets – Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and Venus, along with the moon – until next year. An early observation, about 30 minutes after Venus rises, is needed too see them spread across the sky from the east-northeast horizon to the southwest skyline.
On August 15, catch the crescent moon with Venus.
Mars and the moon are together this morning in the constellation Pisces. The lunar orb is 1.2° to the lower left of the Red Planet. Without a telescope, the bright planets resemble overly bright stars. Through a telescope, the planets’ details are observed.
Mars is marching eastward. In about a month, Mars reverses its direction and starts to retrograde, an illusion caused by our faster moving world overtaking the slower moving Mars.
On the morning of August 12, view the annual Perseid meteor shower. While a brighter moon outshines the dimmer meteors, five or six meteors are visible each hour on the prime morning.
The first sightings of Sirius by the unaided eye occur this week about 45 minutes before sunrise.
Here is a daily summary about the planets during August.