The New Moon for August occurs on Monday, August 9th, which makes the weekend of August 7-8 the best weekend for dark sky observation.
Mercury is visible in the evening for the entire month of August. Mercury begin this month in the constellation Leo (The Lion) and begins to cross the corner of the constellation Sextans (The Sextant) on August 5th. On August 7th, Mercury finishes crossing the corner of Sextans and returns into the constellation Leo. On August 20th Mercury changes direction starting its retrograde motion toward the Sun and by August 31st, returns to the constellation Sextans.
Mercury reaches its optimal viewing position on August 6th, when it reaches it’s Greatest Eastern Elongation. At that time Mercury will be 27°22’01” from the Sun and will set about 1 hour 50 minutes after sunset.
Venus is also observable in the evening for the entire month of August. In the very earliest hours of August Venus crosses from the constellation Leo (The Lion) to the constellation Virgo (The Maiden) where it will remain located for the rest of the month.
Venus reaches its optimal observing position on August 19th, as it reaches it’s Greatest Eastern Elongation and is in position for its best evening distance from the Sun. At this time Venus will be 45°57’32” from the Sun and will set 3 hours after sunset.
|Finally on August 31st, Venus will pass within 1° of the Star Spica.|
Mars is observable during the evening Hours of August in the constellation Virgo (The Maiden). Mars sets around 10:20 pm (PDT) at the start of August, and by the end of the month, sets around 9:10 pm (PDT).
Jupiter is located in the constellation Pisces (The Fish), moving in retrograde, this month and can be observed from the late evening to morning hours of August. Jupiter rises around 10:25 pm (PDT) at the start of the month, and by the end of August is rising as early as 8:30 pm (PDT).
Jupiter is a great place to start if your are hunting Uranus this month. They are in proximity to each other for the entire month. Look for Jupiter at the opposite side of the sky from Saturn; as Jupiter rises in the East, Saturn is setting in the West.
Located in the constellation Virgo (The Maiden) until December 2012, Saturn is observable during the evening hours of August. Saturn sets around 10:20 pm (PDT) at the start of August , and by the end of the month, sets around 8:30 pm (PDT). Look for Saturn at the opposite side of the sky from Jupiter; as Jupiter rises in the East, Saturn is setting in the West.
At the beginning of the month, Uranus rises around 10:15 pm (PDT), and by the end of August, it rises around 8:15 pm (PDT).
To find Uranus, you might start by looking for Jupiter and the two planets are in proximity to each other for the entire month. At the end of the month Jupiter and Uranus will be a mere 1°15’ from each other and will end up in conjunction next month on September 21st.
Neptune will be observable all month and is at its closes point to Earth for the year. Moving in retrograde, Neptune begins the month in the constellation Aquarius (The Water Bearer) and on August 13th crosses into the constellation Capricornus (the Sea Goat) where it can be found until January 2011.
Pluto is located in the constellation Sagittarius until the year 2023 and is observable until the late evening hours of August. At the start of the month, Pluto sets around 3:30 pm (PDT) and by the end of the month Pluto sets around 1:30 am (PDT).