If you are new to astronomy or just have a casual interest, finding planets and stars can be an exercise in frustration. This month the Moon will pass by Saturn, Jupiter, Mars and the bright stars Regulus, Spika, Antares, and Aldebaran. If you can find the moon you can find the planets and some bright stars easily. At the beginning of the month you can observe the moon after sunset (9:15 PM). After mid month (full moon) you will have to get up before sunrise (5:00 AM).
On August 3 just after sunset look for a thin crescent moon low on the western horizon. The bright star above the moon is Saturn.
On August 4 a little fuller crescent moon passes below Spika, the brightest star in Virgo.
On AUGUST 6 the moon is at “first quarter” or a half moon. At this phase the moon is approximately in same place in space as the Earth (you) was 3.5 hours ago.
On August 7 the waxing gibbous Moon will be above the bright star Antares in the constellation Scorpius.
On August 9 a waxing gibbous moon will be over the constellation Sagittarius (the teapot) and marks the direction to the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way. The moon is also next to Pluto which you can’t see, but it’s there.
On August 14 the Moon will be full. The Moon rises in the east opposite the setting sun. Because full moon is technically only a moment in time (for Aurora 00:58 AM) the moon can rise up to 30 minutes before or after sunset for a given location. So this month the “full moon” will rise at 8:09 PM in Aurora. That’s 12 minutes after sunset. You may have noticed the moon has been visible to us every day in the in the early evening. After full moon that changes. The moon now will only be visible each day in the predawn morning hours.
On the morning of August 15 watch the full moon set over the mountains around sunrise (6:11 AM for Aurora).
On August 20 the Moon will be above a bright star, it’s the planet Jupiter. Again you will have to get up before sunrise to see the pair. Look south and up.
On August 21 the Moon will be at “third quarter” or half moon. At this phase the Moon is approximately in the same place in space the Earth (you) will be in 3.5 hours. The Moon will also be just above and to the right of a small group of stars called the Pleiades (Subaru in Japanese). Don’t believe me, check out the car emblem. The Pleiades is best seen in a pair of binoculars and it’s breathtaking.
On August 22 the waning crescent moon will be above Aldebaran, the brightest star in Taurus.
On August 25 a thin waning crescent moon will be just below Mars.
August 26 will most likely be the last day to see a very thin crescent moon as the Moon heads toward the rising Sun.
August 29 is “new moon” meaning the Moon rises and sets with the Sun. The Moon will not be easily visible again until September 1 when it returns to night side of the Sun. Look for a very thin crescent in the west after sunset.
Wishing you clear skies