The Night Sky This Month: August 2022

Super Moon

In August, planetary viewing remains poor for observers situated north of latitude 500N. Observers between latitude 250N and latitude 500N, on the other hand, might be able to spot some of the inner planets at low elevations at various times throughout the month.

Meanwhile, the Full Moon occurring on August 12 will be the last of three Super Moons for 2022. Super Moons occur when the Moon is full and is also at its point of closest approach to Earth during any given calendar month. This can make the Moon appear to be as much as 14% larger than a “regular” Full Moon.

The Moon Phases in August 2022

First Quarter
Full Moon
Last Quarter
New Moon
August 5th August 12th August 19th August 27th

The Planets in August 2022

Mercury recently passed behind the Sun and is therefore not visible from latitudes as low as 250N . The planet will reach its highest elevation of 8 degrees above the horizon during daylight hours throughout most of August.

Venus is just barely visible as an early morning object in the pre-dawn sky. The planet has now passed its point of greatest western elongation from the Sun and is now falling back towards our star. By month’s end, Venus will rise to an elevation of about 10 degrees above the eastern horizon 60 minutes or so before sunrise, which will occur around 06:43 (EDT)

Mars is visible as an early morning object throughout August. The Red planet will rise to an elevation of about 62 degrees above the eastern horizon at the start of the month, and about 82 degrees above the southeastern horizon during the last few days of August.

Jupiter starts the month rising just after midnight to just 7 degrees above the eastern horizon. By about 05:14 (EDT), the planet will be visible at an elevation of around 66 degrees above the eastern horizon, before becoming lost in the brightening dawn sky.

Saturn is now approaching a point of opposition and is therefore visible as an early morning object throughout August (as seen from latitude 250N and above). While Saturn becomes visible from about 21:43 (EDT), its elevation will gradually increase from 10 degrees above the eastern horizon to about 49 degrees above the southern horizon by about 02:22 (EDT).

Uranus is now emerging from behind the Sun and is therefore visible as an early morning object at an elevation of about 60 degrees. By month’s end, Uranus will rise to an elevation of about 81 degrees above the southern horizon.

Neptune is visible as an early morning object. At the start of August, the planet will rise to an elevation of about 61 degrees above the southern horizon, but by month’s end, the planet will rise to an elevation of 60 degrees above the western horizon.

Meteor Showers in August 2022

The Perseids Meteor Shower is expected to peak on the night of 12/13 August this year. The shower is created by debris left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle, which often produces up to around 60 meteors per hour during the peak period. Many large, bright, and relatively fast-moving meteors are a particularly note-worthy feature of this shower.

However, the Full Moon occurs on the night of the peak, which means that all but the brightest meteors will be extinguished. Despite the bright moonlight, though, the Perseids shower is usually so prolific that many bright meteors will be visible from a dark site. Although the shower’s radiant is in the constellation Perseus, meteors can appear from almost any point in the sky during the peak period.

Deep Sky Objects to Look for in August 2022

Provided seeing conditions allow, many deep sky objects that are easy targets for small telescopes and binoculars become visible. These include many open star clusters, some of which are visible without optical aid. Below are some details of open clusters that become visible around the middle of August at relatively high altitudes as seen from latitudes 250N to about latitude 550N.

Perseus Double Cluster (NGC869, Caldwell 14, Cr 24, Mel 13, h Per, h Persei)

Located about 7,400 light-years away in the constellation Perseus, this magnitude 5.3 pair of open clusters is visible without optical aid between the constellations Perseus and Cassiopeia as a single bright patch of nebulosity. Small telescopes or large binoculars will resolve the pair into two separate clusters that each consist of predominantly bright blue stars, although both clusters also contain a few bright orange stars. Its relatively young age of only about 14 million years appears to explain the predominance of bright blue stars, many of which appear similar in terms of their chemical composition.

Note that the pair of clusters will rise to their highest elevation of about 58 degrees above the northern horizon during the second and third weeks of August.

 IC4665 (Cr 349, Mel 179)

Located only about 1,400 light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus, this sparsely populated magnitude 4.2 cluster is among the nearest open clusters to Earth and is easily visible without optical aid from dark sites. Somewhat strangely, this cluster is the brightest cluster that was not cataloged by either Charles Messier or William Herschel; probably neither recognized it as a proper, albeit very sparsely populated, open star cluster.

Note that the cluster will rise to its highest elevation of about 68 degrees above the western horizon during the second and third weeks of August.

Captain Hook Cluster (NGC 6633, De Cheseaux No. 3, H VIII.72, Cr 380, Mel 201)

Somewhat aptly named, this large bright, magnitude 4.6 open cluster vaguely resembles a pirate’s hook. It is easily visible without optical aid in the constellation Ophiuchus, although small telescopes and even large binoculars will resolve individual stars in the cluster. Despite the cluster being almost as big as the Full Moon, it has only 38 confirmed members, ne of which is a highly unusual chemically peculiar star.

Note that the cluster will reach its highest elevation of 70 degrees above the western horizon during the second and third weeks of August.

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