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Astronomical events of interest for August 2014

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Here is a quick look at what’s happening astronomically in August 2014. Mark your calendars.

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The month of August is named after Augustus the first emperor of Rome. He named the month after himself in 8BC.

Moon:

  • First Quarter Moon: August 3
  • Full Moon: August 10 (Summer Moon)
  • Closest to Earth: August 10 (221,765 miles - Super Moon)
  • Last Quarter Moon: August 17
  • Farthest from Earth: August 24 (252,602 miles - Mini Moon)
  • New Moon: August 25

Planets visible early evening after sunset:

  • Mars will be in the west all month.
  • Saturn will be in the west all month sharing the sky with Mars.

Planets visible morning before sunrise:

  • Venus will be visible in the east all month moving closer and closer to the rising Sun.
  • Jupiter will low on the eastern horizon starting around August 10. Jupiter will be next to Venus on August 18 .

Sun:

  • August 1: Sunrise 5:58am MDT, Sunset 8:13pm MDT
  • August 10: The Sun enters the astronomical constellation Leo
  • August 23: The Sun enters the astrological sign Virgo
  • August 31: Sunrise 6:26am MDT, Sunset 7:33pm MDT

Earth:

  • August 1 Lammas Day. Lammas Day is one of four cross-quarter days, which fall in the middle of each season. Traditionally cross-quarter days have been days of celebration that mark the unofficial start of the season. Even though it is still officially Summer, you will start feeling “Fall in the air” and start hearing crickets chirping.

Meteors:

  • August 12/13: Perseid meteor shower peaks. This year a nearly full moon will brighten up the sky making seeing fainter meteors more difficult. The best time to observe will be between 1 and 3 am. Up to 100 under moonless skies are possible.

Special Events:

  • August 1: Early evening look southwest. The Crescent Moon is in the constellation Virgo to the right of Spica the brightest star in Virgo. To the left of Spica is Mars. To the left of Mars is Saturn.
  • August 2: Early evening look southwest. The Moon will be between Mars (left) and Spica (right).
  • August 3: Chamberlin Observatory open house, weather permitting. The observatory’s 20” telescope and telescopes belonging to members of the Denver Astronomical Society will be available for viewing. Click here for more information.
  • August 3: Early evening look southwest. The First Quarter Moon will be between Saturn (left) and Mars (right). The Moon is in approximately the same place in space and the Earth, and you, were three and a half hours ago.
  • August 18: Pre-dawn look east. The Moon is in the constellation Taurus above Aldebaran, the brightest star in Taurus.
  • August 22: Pre-dawn look east. A Crescent Moon is in the constellation Gemini. Pollux (lower) and Castor (upper) are to the upper right of the Moon. Procyon, in the constellation Canis Minor, is to the lower left of the Moon.
  • August 29: Early evening look west. A Crescent Moon returns to Virgo nest to Spica.
  • August 30: Early evening look west. The Crescent Moon is between Saturn and Mars (left) and Spica.
  • August 31: Early evening look southwest. The Moon, Saturn and Mars meet in the constellation Libra providing a spectacular sight. Mars is below the Moon and Saturn to the right.

Historical Trivia:

  • August 10, 1972: Great Daylight 1972 Fireball streaked across the Rocky Mountains, never getting closer than 36 miles to Earth.
  • August 25, 1989: Voyager 2 makes the first flyby of Neptune.

Wishing you clear skies

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