WHAT’S UP IN THE SKY THIS AUGUST 2018?

WHAT’S UP IN THE SKY THIS AUGUST 2018?

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We are in the middle of summer. Hot to very hot weather will persist in the UAE this August. Wondering what’s going to be up at the sky for the new month? The following is a list of astronomical events for August 2018. All dates and times were given in UAE Local Time.

August 11, 2018: New Moon

On this day, the moon will not be visible as it will be situated on the same side of the Earth as the Sun, in the constellation of Leo (the lion). With no moonlight glaring much of the night sky, this is the best time to observe the deep sky objects throughout the night. It is predicted that the lunar phase will occur on this day. However, the month transition from Dhu l-Kada to Dhu l-Hidjdja is expected to take place two days after (August 13) in accordance to the Hijri Calendar 1439.

August 12 – 13, 2018: Perseid Meteor Shower

On the late evening hours of August 12 until the dawn of August 13, 2018, the peak of an active meteor shower known as the Perseids will take place. It is projected to bring up to 50-100 meteors per hour under completely dark, cloudless skies. These meteors will seem to radiate from the constellation Perseus (the warrior) at the sky’s northeastern portion but can be observed anywhere of the sky from 10 PM all the way through dawn. The space debris from comet Swift-Tuttle entering Earth are the ones responsible for this meteor shower. Fortunately, the less illuminated Waxing Crescent Moon will set early at night. Without any moonlight interference, the night sky will be darker, increasing the chance of seeing several bright meteors.  A must have in observing this astronomical phenomenon is patience; lots of them and comfort.

The position of Perseids radiant (Image Credit: Stellarium, theskyscrapers.org)

August 14, 2018: Moon-Venus Close Approach

The Moon and the “evening star” Venus will appear close to each other in the sky on the early evening hours of this day. Sharing about the same right ascension, the close approach will be seen at the western horizon from around 7 PM, right after sunset, until the two set at about 8:45 PM. These celestial objects will be situated in the known constellation Virgo (the virgin). The Waxing Crescent Moon will be about 6°northeast of Venus. With an apparent magnitude of -4.43, Venus would look like a well-distinguished brilliant white “star”.

Moon-Venus Close Approach on August 14, 2018, at around 7:15 PM (not to scale) (Graphic Courtesy of Stellarium)

August 17, 2018 – Venus at Greatest Eastern Elongation

The second planet in the Solar System, Venus will appear at its highest point just a few moments after sunset.  The maximum extent of angular separation from the Sun as seen from Earth will be at around 45° (in the UAE). Venus will be seen about 30° above the western horizon after sunset; from around 6:50 PM until it sets at around 8:30 PM. Venus will appear as a brilliant dot in the sky. After this celestial event, Venus will be seen gradually dip down in altitude towards the Sun as time passes.

Venus at Greatest Eastern Elongation (about 30° above the western horizon) a few minutes after sunset on August 17, 2018 (not to scale) (Image Credit: Stellarium)

August 17, 2018: Moon – Jupiter Close Approach

The Moon and the largest planet Jupiter will appear close to each other in the sky throughout the night of this day. It will be seen at its highest point in the southern part of the sky right after sunset (about 7 PM) until 10:50 PM when the Moon sets earlier than Jupiter. These celestial objects will be situated in the faint constellation Libra (the scales). The Waxing Crescent Moon will be about 3.75° north of Jupiter. Jupiter would look like a bright white “star”.

Moon-Jupiter Close Approach on August 17, 2018, at around 8:30 PM (not to scale) (Graphic Courtesy of Stellarium)

August 21, 2018: Moon – Saturn Conjunction

The bright Waning Gibbous Moon and the ringed planet Saturn will appear close to each other in the sky. The two celestial objects will be separated about 3.27°of each other in the night sky. The close approach will be seen at the east-southeastern horizon right after sunset up to 1:45 AM on August 22, 2018. Both celestial objects will be situated in the constellation Sagittarius (the archer). Saturn would look like a yellow-orange “star” respectively. Also spotted to the southwest of the two objects are the red planet Mars and the red supergiant star Antares (in Scorpio) to the east-southeast.

Moon-Saturn Conjunction on August 21, 2018, at around 8 PM (not to scale) (Graphic Courtesy of Stellarium)

August 23, 2018: Moon-Mars Conjunction

The red planet Mars and the bright Waxing Gibbous Moon will appear close to each other in the sky. The two will be separated about 6.12° in the night sky. The close approach will be visible at the east-southeastern horizon right after until 3:45 AM on the following day (August 24). Both celestial objects will be situated in the constellation Capricornus (the goat). Mars would look like a bright reddish “star”.

Moon-Mars Conjunction on August 23, 2018, at around 9 PM (not to scale) (Graphic Courtesy of Stellarium)

August 26, 2018: Full Moon

Situated on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun, the moon will be fully illuminated (100%) on this day. For selenophiles (people who love the moon), this is the best time to observe all the surface features of this celestial object, including the craters and maria. It will start appearing at around 6:45 PM (at the eastern horizon) as it rises, and can be seen throughout the night until sunrise positioned in the constellation of Capricornus (the goat). Because of its full illumination during this phase, it will not be a good time for deep-sky observation with the entire moonlight glaring out most of the faint celestial objects.

Full Moon taken from Al Sadeem Observatory last June 27, 2018 (Credit: Alejandro Palado/Al Sadeem Astronomy Observatory)

August 27, 2018 – Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation

The smallest planet in the Solar System, Mercury will appear at its highest point just a few moments after sunset.  The maximum extent of angular separation from the Sun as seen from Earth will be at around 13° (in the UAE). Mercury will be seen up to about 13° above the western horizon after sunset, from around 7:30 PM until it sets at around 8 PM. Though it is moderately bright, observing it will be quite of a challenge from the fact that Mercury is situated near the Sun in the sky.

Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation (about 13° above the eastern horizon) few minutes before sunrise on August 27, 2018 (not to scale) (Image Credit: Stellarium)

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In the UAE, August still falls during the summer months in which air temperatures across the country will remain very hot in the daytime and warm and humid at night time. Solar system planets are starting to show up earlier at night. The “morning/evening star” Venus can be seen in the western portion of the sky few moments after sunset. Planet Jupiter and Saturn will be visible right after sunset until about 12 AM and 3:15 AM respectively, while Mars from 8:30 PM until sunrise. Uranus could be seen using a large telescope in the early morning hours. The rest, Mercury, and Neptune are barely or not visible in the sky this month because they are placed near the Sun in the sky.

Under clear, moonless, and extremely dark skies, several deep-skies objects such as nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies can be seen through binoculars, cameras with wide-angle or zoom lens and more preferably, bigger telescopes. The prominent ones include the Eagle Nebula, Lagoon Nebula, Trifid Nebula, and the Milky Way Galaxy to be seen in the early evening hours until early morning.

Sunrise occurrences range between 5:50 AM and 6:03 AM while sunsets shall happen between 6:42 PM and as late as 7:06 PM.

Have a warm and enjoyable August, everyone! Clear skies!

Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, The Wild Duck Cluster taken from Al Sadeem Observatory, Deep Sky Objects situated within the Milky Galaxy central region,  (Credit: Thabet Al Qaissieh, Aldrin B. Gabuya)

References

Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events 2018. (n.d.). Retrieved from Sea and Sky: www.seasky.org/astronomy/astronomy-calendar-2018.html

Calendar of Astronomical Events. (n.d.). Retrieved from In-The-Sky.org: http://in-the-sky.org/newscal.php?year=2018&month=8&maxdiff=4#datesel

Islamic calendar 2018. (n.d.). Retrieved from Calendar.sk: https://calendar.zoznam.sk/islamic_calendar-en.php?ly=2018

Sunrise and sunset times in Abu Dhabi, August 2018. (n.d.). Retrieved from timeanddate.com: https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/united-arab-emirates/abu-dhabi?month=8&year=2018

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