Astronomical events of interest for August 2015

Here is a quick look at what’s happening astronomically in August 2015.

The month of August is named after Augustus the first emperor of Rome. He named the month after himself in 8BC.

The traditional full moon name for August is the “Dog Day’s Moon”. The name is derived from the rising of the “dog star” Sirius at dawn. Other names associated with the last full moon of summer are the “Sturgeon Moon”, “Woodcutter’s Moon”, “Green Corn Moon” and “Wort (old-world word meaning plant) Moon”. To the Cherokee it is “the ripe corn moon”. The Oto called it “all the elk call moon”, and for the Zuni it is the “no snow on trial moon”.  The Lakota Sioux called it “moon when the cherries turned black”.

  • Closest to Earth: August 2 (225,023 miles – Super-sized Moon)           
  • Last Quarter Moon: August 6
  • New Moon:  August 14
  • Farthest from Earth: August 17 (252,182 miles – Mini-sized Moon)
  • First Quarter Moon: August 22
  • Full Moon: August 29
Planets visible early evening after sunset:
  • Saturn will be visible all month in the south to south west
 Planets visible morning before sunrise:
  • Venus will be visible in the east starting in the last week in August
  • Mars will be in the east starting August 5.
  • Both Mercury and Jupiter are too close to the Sun to be easily observed
  • August 1: Sunrise 5:58am MDT, Sunset 8:13pm MDT
  • August 11: The Sun enters the astronomical constellation Leo
  • August 23: The Sun enters the astrological sign Virgo
  • August 31: Sunrise 6:26am MDT, Sunset 7:32pm MDT
  • August 1, Lammas Day: Lammas Day is one of four cross-quarter days, which fall in the middle of each season. Traditionally cross-quarter days have been days of celebration that mark the unofficial start of the season. Even though it is still officially summer, you will start feeling “fall in the air” and start hearing crickets chirping.  
  • August 12/13: Perceid meteor shower peaks.  Unlike last year the Moon will not interfere. The best time to observe will be between 1 and 3 am. Up to 100 meteors per hour are possible under dark moonless skies.  Note: Meteors can be observed several days before and after peak.
Special Events:
  • August 8-9: Morning before sunrise look almost overhead, A crescent moon will be next to the bright star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus the bull.
  • August 19: Early evening look southwest. The Moon will be above Spica in the constellation Virgo.
  • August 21-22: A crescent moon will be next to Saturn in the constellation Libra the scales.
  • August 22: Chamberlin Observatory open house, weather permitting. The observatory’s 20” telescope and telescopes belonging to members of the Denver Astronomical Society will be available for viewing. Click here for more information. 
  • August 31: Morning before sunrise look east. Mars and Venus are about the eastern horizon. Venus is the brightest; Mars is above left of Venus. Both are in the constellation Cancer. Above the pair are Pollux (lower) and Castor (upper) the Gemini twins. The bright star to the left of and between Venus and the Gemini twins is Procyon the brightest star in the constellation Canis Minor, the little dog.
Historical Trivia:
  • August 23, 1966: The first photograph of Earth from the Moon was taken by Lunar Orbiter 1.
  • August 25, 2003:  The Spitzer Space Telescope is launched, the final observatory of NASA's Great Observatory program.
Wishing you clear skies
Rick's Thought for the Day


Thought 8.27.15

"If you want something you’ve never had then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done"