Interesting Sky Events to Observe in the UAE this August 2021

This August, curious sky watchers and avid stargazers will be ushered into a couple of lively nights with a highly anticipated meteor shower, and the opposition of planets Saturn and Jupiter.

Optical instruments like a telescope or binoculars can help maximize your observation experience, especially on planets. And with moonless nights, deep-sky objects like nebulae and galaxies are extra delights that you can find in the night sky. Telescopes with enough power, like the smart telescope Stellina, can come in handy with these types of observations. (Al Sadeem Astronomy is the only distributor of this smart telescope here in the Middle East. You can place an order or inquiry here.)

Here is a list of astronomical events to check out this August. All dates and times were given in UAE Local Time (UTC+4).

August 2 – Saturn at opposition

Gas giant Saturn will appear its brightest and largest on August 2, because of the two events simultaneously happening to this planet: one, Saturn is in opposition; and two, the planet is at its perigee or its closest approach to Earth.

So even with the Moon in its waning crescent phase, this is unarguably a great time to observe the planet with a medium-sized telescope (6” and above), and marvel at its rings and brighter moons like Titan.

What happens when a planet is in opposition anyway? In technical terms, an opposition occurs when the Sun and a planet are exactly 180 degrees apart in the sky, and the Earth sits in the middle of these two cosmic objects.

As seen from our sky, an opposition looks like the sun is at one end and the involved planet is in the opposite direction. The planet in opposition shines brighter than normal because what we see is the side that is being illuminated by the Sun, or the fully lighted daytime side. Just like how our Sun shines upon our Moon. Planets at opposition tend to be closer to Earth in orbit.

Oppositions don’t happen to all planets, by the way. The only planets that can be in opposition are those further out in the Solar System than the Earth—that means no oppositions happening for Venus and Mercury.

During this Saturn opposition on August 2, we may also observe that the rings are brighter than the globe. This is called the Seeliger effect.

An illustration of a planet in opposition and perigee, like Saturn on August 2nd. Not drawn to scale (Source:

Where can you find Saturn in the night sky then? Look for this planet in Capricornus, the smallest constellation in the zodiac.

In Abu Dhabi, Saturn will begin to show up around 7:58 P.M., at an altitude of 10° above the south-eastern horizon. By 12:33 A.M. of the following day, the ringed planet will reach its highest point in the sky at 47° above the southern horizon. Saturn will set around 5:08 9° above the south-western horizon.

At the moment of opposition, Saturn will shine at magnitude +0.2 at a distance of 1.34 billion kilometers from Earth.

A file photo of Saturn.Taken by Al Sadeem Observatory’s resident astronomer Aldrin Gabuya.

August 11 – Moon-Venus Appulse

This month is still plenty of Moon and planet pairings and the first of these is the Moon-Venus appulse.

At 7:17 P.M. on August 11, turn your heads at the western horizon to find the Moon and Venus at close approach. The pair will be a two-hour treat before setting after the Sun at 8:51 P.M.

In this screenshot, Stellarium renders the position of Moon and Venus in the night sky on August 11, 2021.

For clarity between appulses and conjunctions, here’s a quick explanation about that on our Twitter page last month. You can read the thread below:

August 12-13 – Perseid Meteor Shower

August is a beloved month to avid stargazers and serious sky observers because of the month’s perennial (and popular) main act—the Perseid Meteor Shower.

The meteor shower peaks on August 12-13 this year, and it’s expected to bring a whopping 100 meteors per hour display! (That is if this is observed under the right conditions: clear, moonless, dark, night sky.)

The Moon will begin to wax as it comes out from its New Moon phase during the peak days, but since the Moon will be only 27 percent illuminated, it will not ruin the much-awaited show.

The Perseids are born out of the debris left by Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle that “scratches” on the Earth’s atmosphere as our planet pass through its stream.

If you missed its peak, don’t worry because you can still appreciate the lovely Perseids. It will remain active until August 24.

The meteor shower’s radiant in the northeastern constellation Perseus (Image rendered by Stellarium)

August 20 – Moon-Saturn Conjunction & Jupiter at Opposition

On this day, the Moon and Saturn will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing about 6° to the right of Saturn—hence, an event aptly called as conjunction.

The pair will be visible from 7:07 P.M., at 17° above the south-eastern horizon, and will reach their highest point in the sky at 11:06 P.M. Catch them until 3:52 A.M., when they sink below 8° above the south-western horizon.

On the same day, it’s the planet Jupiter’s turn to be at opposition, which means as we marvel at the Moon-Saturn pairing the Solar System’s largest planet will be shining brightly nearby.

Like the Saturn opposition early in the month, Jupiter will also be found in the constellation Capricornus. It’s always best to have your telescopes or binoculars ready to appreciate this planet better.

In opposition, Jupiter will be about 600 million kilometers from Earth and shining quite brightly at magnitude -2.9.

In this screenshot, Stellarium generates the position of Moon and Saturn in the night sky on August 20, 2021. Close by is planet Jupiter, which will be at opposition on the same day.
A file photo of Jupiter (with Io and Ganymede). Taken by Al Sadeem Observatory’s resident astronomer AldrinGabuya.

August 21 – Moon-Jupiter Conjunction

The last Moon-planet pairing for August occurs on August 21, when planet Jupiter closes in on the Moon at the same right ascension following its moment of opposition.

Expect the pair to be visible as early as 7:21 P.M., when they rise at 7° above the eastern horizon. Past midnight at 12:19 A.M., the pair will reach their highest point in the sky until they set at 5:16 A.M.

In this screenshot, Stellarium renders the position of Moon and Jupiter in the night sky on August 21, 2021.

Where to see the Milky Way

August is the best time to catch the Milky Way. Here’s a quick tip if you want to spend a night admiring the big, bright patch in the night sky: the areas south of Abu Dhabi are some of the amazing spots in the UAE for stargazing! Try Al Quaa, Hameem, Al Khatim, Liwa—these places are much farther out from city lights and relatively dark.

This month, you’ll be able to see the Milky Way as early as eight in the evening when it rises, until four in the morning. But the best time to see it will be at midnight, on a clear, dark, and moonless night.

Sunrise and Sunset times

August 1           05:50 ↑         19:06 ↓

August 31        06:03 ↑         18:41 ↓

The Moon’s Phases

August 8 – New Moon

August 15 – First Quarter

August 22 – Full Moon

August 30 – Last Quarter


Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events 2021. (n.d.). Retrieved from Sea and Sky:

Calendar of Astronomical Events. (n.d.). Retrieved from #datesel

Sunrise and sunset times in Abu Dhabi, August 2021. (n.d.). Retrieved from