August 2022

Welcome to SkyEye, your guide to this month's celestial events.

The Calendar

Sadly, the famous Perseid meteor shower is washed out by moonlight this year. By way of compensation, Saturn is at opposition in August and on display all night and Mercury puts on its best evening show for equatorial and southern observers.

The phases of the Moon in August 2022

Date Body Event
2 Mars, Uranus planetary conjunction: 1.3° apart
Venus ascending node
4 Mercury 0.6° north of α Leonis (Regulus)
5 Moon first quarter
Moon descending node
10 Moon perigee
11 Uranus west quadrature
12 Moon full
Earth Perseid meteor shower
13 Mercury descending node
14 Saturn opposition
15 Moon, Jupiter 1.9° apart
17 Venus 0.9° south of the open star cluster M44 (known as Praesepe or the Beehive Cluster)
18 Moon ascending node
Moon, Uranus lunar occultation of Uranus: visible from the Pacific Ocean
19 Moon last quarter
22 4 Vesta opposition
Moon apogee
23 Uranus maximum declination north
Mercury aphelion
24 Uranus stationary in right ascension: direct → retrograde
27 Mars west quadrature
Moon new
Mercury greatest elongation east: 27.3°

The Solar System

The word planet is derived from the Greek word for 'wanderer'. Unlike the background stars, planets seem to move around the sky, keeping mostly to a narrow track called the ecliptic, the path of the Sun across the stars. Dwarf planets and small solar-system bodies, including comets, are not so constrained, often moving far above or below the ecliptic.

The position of the Sun and planets at mid-month

Sun CancerLeo

Mercury LeoVirgo

For southern hemisphere planet watchers, this is the best evening apparition of Mercury this year as it climbs relatively high above the western horizon. Observers farther north are not so lucky, with the tiny planet never gaining much altitude. Mercury appears only 0.6° away from first-magnitude star Regulus on 4 August. The tiny planet reaches aphelion on 23 August and greatest elongation east (at 27.3°, its the largest of the year) four days later. By the end of the month, Mercury is descending back toward the horizon.

Venus GeminiCancerLeo

Having passed through its descending node in April, Venus returns to the north side of the ecliptic on the second day of the month. The morning star is getting low in the east for all observers so its encounter with the Beehive Cluster (M44) on 17 August will be difficult to see.

Earth and Moon

Light from the Full Moon obliterates the Perseids this year. Our satellite continues its series of occultations of Uranus, with the green ice giant vanishing behind the Moon's disk on 18 August.

Mars AriesTaurus

Mars completes its tour of the gas giants this month when it overtakes sixth-magnitude Uranus on the second day of the month. On 27 August the red planet reaches west quadrature. A telescopic view of the planet will show a distinctly gibbous disk just under ten arc-seconds in width. Mars rises during the late evening hours for astronomers in northern temperate latitudes but does not appear until after midnight for planet watchers in the southern hemisphere.

Jupiter Cetus

Jupiter continues to rise ever earlier in the evening as it heads toward opposition next month. The dark winter skies of the southern hemisphere offer the best viewing opportunities but Jupiter now appears in the east during evening twilight for observers farther north.

Saturn Capricornus

At opposition mid-month, Saturn is visible all night, rising at sunset and setting at sunrise. It shines at magnitude +0.3 and presents an orb 18.8 arc-seconds in diameter when viewed through a telescope. With the rings (now tilted at 13.9°), it is nearly 43° across.

Saturn at opposition in 2022

Uranus Aries

It's a busy month for the green ice giant which is now rising before midnight at all latitudes. The red planet passes by on the second day of the month and the waning gibbous Moon occults the sixth-magnitude object on 18 August. However, only those treading water in the northern Pacific Ocean will witness it. Uranus reaches west quadrature on 11 August and reaches a stationary point (in right ascension) on 24 August, after which it goes into retrograde.

Neptune PiscesAquarius

A small telescope is necessary to view the most distant planet in the solar system. Still in retrograde leading up to next month's opposition, Neptune is best viewed from the southern hemisphere where it rises in early evening and is visible the rest of the night. Observers in northern latitudes are getting a better chance of glimpsing the eighth-magnitude planet as it now rises mid-evening and is well aloft once the sky gets dark late at night.

The Celestial Sphere

Constellations are patterns of stars in the sky. The International Astronomical Union recognises 88 different constellations. The brightest stars as seen from the Earth are easy to spot but do you know their proper names? With a set of binoculars you can look for fainter objects such as nebulae and galaxies and star clusters or some of the closest stars to the Sun.

Descriptions of the sky for observers in both the northern and southern hemispheres are available for the following times this month. Subtract one hour from your local time if summer (daylight savings) time is in effect.

Local Time Mid-month Northern Hemisphere Equator Southern Hemisphere
1730 hours (1830 hours summer time) 60° N 50° N 40° N 30° N 20° N 10° N 10° S 20° S 30° S 40° S
1930 hours (2030 hours summer time) 60° N 50° N 40° N 30° N 20° N 10° N 10° S 20° S 30° S 40° S
2130 hours (2230 hours summer time) 60° N 50° N 40° N 30° N 20° N 10° N 10° S 20° S 30° S 40° S
2330 hours (0030 hours summer time) 60° N 50° N 40° N 30° N 20° N 10° N 10° S 20° S 30° S 40° S
0130 hours (0230 hours summer time) 60° N 50° N 40° N 30° N 20° N 10° N 10° S 20° S 30° S 40° S
0330 hours (0430 hours summer time) 60° N 50° N 40° N 30° N 20° N 10° N 10° S 20° S 30° S 40° S
0530 hours (0630 hours summer time) 60° N 50° N 40° N 30° N 20° N 10° N 10° S 20° S 30° S 40° S