Jupiter will be the only bright planet visible in the evening sky during August, while two planets will appear before dawn.
Jupiter is low in the western sky after sunset now and sets earlier each evening. It will gradually become more difficult to find after sunset and will be gone by month's end. Before it disappears, Jupiter will appear in the evening sky with a waxing crescent moon on the evenings of Aug. 17 and 18.
Venus rises about 2:30 a.m. all month and will be high in the eastern sky before dawn. It shines more brilliantly than any other planet or star and will be unmistakable in the predawn sky.
Saturn also appears before dawn during August. It rises during morning twilight now but will be up earlier each day, rising with the brighter Venus at month's end. Saturn and Venus will be very near each other on the morning of Aug. 31.
A waning crescent moon will appear to the left of Venus before dawn Aug. 12 and to the left of Saturn one day later.
The faint light of the crescent moon Aug. 12 will provide optimal viewing conditions for the expected peak of the Perseid meteor shower. The Perseid shower is one of the two best each year, and it is much more widely viewed than the Geminid shower because peak Geminid activity occurs during the cold hours before dawn in December.
The Perseid shower often provides as many as 60 meteors per hour during peak activity, which occurs between midnight and dawn. The meteor shower occurs as the earth passes through the debris trail left by Comet Swift-Tuttle, which circles the sun every 130 years, most recently in 1992. The tiny bits of grit lost by the comet as it moves through space burn up as the enter the earth's atmosphere, creating the meteors.
The best way to watch the meteors is to find a location with an open view of the sky, away from the bright lights typically found in cities and near highways and shopping centers. Dress warmly, and sit or lie back and be patient.
Full moon this month will be on Aug. 29.
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