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Night sky in August – southern hemisphere


Highlights: Perseid meteor shower.

Here is a view of the night sky this month as seen from mid-southern latitudes such as Sydney (-33° 52′) in mid August, 2014, at 10pm local time.

The planets in August 2014

Mercury is too close to the Sun to be visible for most of the month, but those in the southern hemisphere might spot it in the last week. It will be close to the waning crescent moon on 27 August.

Venus is still in the morning sky, on the far side of the Sun and not easy to find, despite its magnitude of -3.8, unless you have a clear easterly horizon before dawn.

Mars crosses from Virgo into Libra in the early part of the month. Spot it after dusk with a brightness of +0.5. It continues to recede from Earth, making observing with a telescope difficult. Find out more about Mars here including new maps to show its position in the sky.

Jupiter passed through its conjunction with the Sun on 24 July so will not be visible until towards the end of August at magnitude -1.8, providing you have a clear easterly horizon.

Saturn is far south on the path that planets follow through the zodiac, termed the ecliptic. Look for it shining at about magnitude +0.5 as soon as darkness falls. Mars gets close as the month progresses.

Summer meteors

August is always a good month for “shooting stars”, in particular from the Perseid meteor shower which peaks around 12 August. Moonlight will interfere this year, with the Full Moon happening only two days earlier on 10 August. However, be patient and you are likely still to be rewarded with views of the shower’s plentiful bright meteors. Activity continues for many days after maximum too, when moonlight becomes less of a problem.

Note: The sky will appear much the same from other cities at similar latitudes, such as Perth or Wellington, at around 10pm local time. Imagine holding it over your head so that the centre of the chart is the zenith and the edge runs all the way around your horizon. 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 customizable, browser-based planetarium, courtesy of Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network. Tip: The chart is interactive. Click on the date or location to the top left of the chart to view the sky at a different time or from another location. If you want to check out the sky as seen from the northern hemisphere, click here.