Astronomy Minute: August 2020

By Russ Hanson

Before Sunrise – The Perseid meteor shower peaks on August 12 (11 and 13 should be good, also). Best viewing should be from midnight until dawn, with viewing getting better as dawn approaches. Unfortunately, the moon may wash some of them out. Also, Venus is at greatest elongation on August 12. That is, it will be as far out in front of the sunrise as it gets. I hope for clear skies!

After Sunset – Jupiter and Saturn (smaller, gold colored, a little farther to the east) are very evident in the southeast after sunset. It is easy to see at least four of the moons of Jupiter if you have a small telescope or a spotting scope. You might see one moon if you can hold your binoculars steady enough. Where’s Waldo – er – Comet NEOWISE? It is moving in about a 45 degree angle up and south from under the bowl of the Big Dipper.

I don’t know how much longer we can see it; it may be gone by time this newsletter is published. Look for it with binoculars when it is dark enough to see the Big Dipper.