Mars comes between Saturn and the bright star Spica in the evening sky this month. It's interesting to see how fast Mars moves past them. In the morning sky, Jupiter can be found moving away from Venus. While Mercury can be seen for about a week, low to the eastern horizon.
Discover the Night Sky – August 2012
The Melbourne Planetarium at Scienceworks presents its popular after-dark sessions, Thursday evenings from 2nd to 30th August at 7.30pm. All evenings include a glass of wine with cheese, the opportunity to chat to the Planetarium's astronomer, Dr Tanya Hill, and to be immersed in a planetarium experience. You will finish the evening stargazing through telescopes (weather permitting).
Each evening will showcase a different aspect of the night sky.
Thursday 2nd: Backyard Astronomy – There's so much to see if you know when and where to look.
Thursday 9th: A Tour of the Universe – Leave Earth behind and venture to the far reaches of space.
Thursday 16th: Our Solar System – What's new with our family of planets?
Thursday 23rd: Exoplanets – Explore some newly discovered and distant worlds. Will we ever find life out there?
Thursday 30th: Dark Energy – We don't understand it, but it fills our Universe.
For more information, pricing or bookings please see the What's On or call the Scienceworks Booking Office on 9392 4819.
Melbourne International Film Festival – 4th August 2012
For the third year running, MIFF comes to the Planetarium for an evening of fulldome works, presenting movies specifically designed for the domed screen. The are two sessions on Saturday 4th August:
7pm: Fulldome Showcase One: VisuaLiszt and Space Opera
9pm: Fulldome Showcase Two: Coral: Rekindling Venus and Life: A Cosmic Story
For more information and ticketing visit the MIFF website: ww.melbournefilmfestival.com.au
|Sunrise and Sunset Times
The Moon will be at perigee (closest to Earth) on Friday 24th at a distance of 369,730 km.
The Moon will be at apogee (furthest from Earth) on Friday 10th at a distance of 404,124 km.
*Blue Moon: By modern folklore, the second full moon in a month is known as a blue moon; just don't expect the Moon to actually turn blue.
Let The Moon be your Guide
The Moon can be used as a pointer to find other objects in the sky.
- On the morning of the 11th the waning crescent Moon sits above the bright star cluster Pleiades.
- The following morning, on the 12th, the Moon is right next to bright Jupiter.
- Before sunrise on the 14th Venus can be found just above the crescent Moon.
- Low to the eastern horizon on the morning of the 16th, the Moon can be found above Mercury.
- After sunset on the 22nd, the waxing crescent Moon sits next to Mars.
- On the night of the 25th the waxing gibbous Moon is near the red supergiant star Antares (Scorpius).
Mercury makes a brief appearance in the morning sky around the middle of the month. If you have a good view of the eastern horizon, you might just be able see it sitting below the crescent Moon before sunrise on the 16th.
Venus is looking lovely as the morning star, shining in the north-east. It begins the month with Jupiter above and to the left, while Orion sits above and to the right. Before sunrise on the 14th, it sits just above the thin crescent Moon. By the end of the month, the twin stars of Gemini (Castor and Pollux) can be found rising below Venus.
Mars and Saturn put on a bit of a show in the north-west at sunset. They are both lovely and bright, with Mars shining red while Saturn appears faintly yellow. Just above and to the left of Saturn is the bright star Spica (Virgo). During the month, you can watch Mars come between Saturn and Spica. On the 16th Mars will be really close to Spica, then on the 22nd, the Moon will be just above Mars.
Jupiter is near Venus in the early morning sky. The bright planet looks like an extra star in the triangular shape of Taurus the bull. Just above Jupiter is the red giant star Aldebaran, the glowing eye of Taurus. On the morning of the 12th the crescent Moon is just 30 arcminutes from Jupiter.
The major meteor shower this month is the Perseids which peaks on the 13th. This is a strong Northern Hemisphere shower with around 100 meteors predicted per hour. The shower resides within the northern constellation of Perseus and it is difficult to view from the Southern Hemisphere. However, at the peak of the shower, it has been known for long-pathed Perseids to be seen here.
Perseids are fast, bright and frequently leave persistent trails. They appear to come from a point below the north-eastern horizon.
The best time to look for Perseids is from 3am onwards. This shower is associated with Comet Swift-Tuttle, which passed near the Sun in 1991.
Stars and Constellations
The two dominant constellations in the sky this month are Scorpius (the scorpion) with its hook-shaped tail and bright, red star Antares, and Sagittarius (the archer) whose bright stars resemble a teapot.
Crux, or the Southern Cross, is high in the south-west. On a clear, moonless night it may be possible to see the Coal Sack nebula, a dark region that lies between the two brightest stars of the Southern Cross, known as Alpha and Beta Crucis.
Low in the southern sky are the bright stars Achernar (to the east) and Canopus (to the west). These stars lie opposite the Southern Cross and never disappear below the horizon.
International Space Station
From Earth, the ISS appears as a bright star that steadily moves across the sky. It can often be seen from Melbourne, for example at: 6:29pm – 6:35pm, Thursday 2nd August.
The Station will appear above the south-west horizon, passing Mars and Saturn, before disappearing in the north-east.
Predictions of when to see the ISS can be obtained from the website:
On this Day
19th 1960, two dogs, Belka and Strelka, were launched into space aboard Sputnik 5 (USSR), and successfully returned to Earth.
20th 1977, Voyager 2 (USA) was launched to explore the planets in the outer Solar System.