Night sky this month – August

Highlights: Jupiter, Mars and Saturn on view. Perseid meteor shower

Here is a view of the night sky this month as seen from mid-northern latitudes such as London or New York in mid August, 2016, at 10pm (22h UT).

The planets in August 2016

Mercury shines brightly in the evening sky, soon after sunset, but is too low above the horizon to be easily seen.

Venus is also in the evening sky, shining at -3.8, but will be hard to see due to its low elevation.

Mars fades from magnitude from -0.8 to -0.3 during the month as it moves from Libra, through Scorpius and into Ophiuchus, the Zodiac’s unrecognised constellation. The size of the disk is shrinking, making it harder to see detail with a small telescope. Find out more about Mars here including maps to show its position in the sky.

Jupiter is visible in the early evening sky, shining at magnitude -1.7 as soon as it gets dark. A small telescope will show the banding in its cloud tops, and the four brightest moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto can be spotted in binoculars.

Saturn shines at around magnitude 0.4 in the evening sky, not far from Mars and bright star Antares in Scorpius. The rings are very widely opened now and so may be well seen in a small telescope.

Perseid meteors at maximum

August sees the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, which is one of the most reliable displays of shooting stars for observers in the northern hemisphere. Rates in 2016 are expected to reach 80 per hour in ideal conditions. Read our special report on what to expect this year and how to observe them.

Note: The sky will appear much the same from other cities at similar latitudes, such as New York, Paris and Berlin, at around 10pm local time. The sky appears the same at the start of the month an hour later and at the end of the month an hour earlier. We use Virtual Sky, a new, customizable, browser-based planetarium, courtesy of Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network. Click on the date or location to the top left of the chart to view the sky at a different time or from another longitude and latitude. If you want to check out the sky as seen from the southern hemisphere, click here.