This Week's Targets and How to Find Them

  • Perseids Meteor Shower (solar system optional)
    • The shower peaks on August 11th-12th, but runs for the entire month of August. Meteors seem to emanate from Perseus (that's how meteor showers get their names). Moon will be below the horizon earlier in the evening so should be nice and dark. Normally the best meteors are usually after midnight and closer to the morning, which means they might be harder to see because of the late quarter Moon. So in this case, because of the Moon, best viewing is earlier in the evening after sunset. Usually about 40-50 meteors per hour, but up to 110 per hour.
    • You can see all of the rest of this session's targets (except the waning gibbous Moon) on the nights of the peak!! They're great to keep you occupied while you look for meteors!
  • Waning Gibbous Moon (lunar phase)
    • On August 6th, the waning gibbous Moon will be rising about 2 hours after sunset! If you don't want to stay up that late, you can head out the following morning to catch it then too.
  • Capricornus (constellation)
    • Just to the east (left) of the teapot in the south, near Jupiter and Saturn. Tricky because it's pretty dim and close to the southern horizon. Kind of looks like a right-angle triangle, with the right angle at the side closest to Jupiter and Saturn. Most of the triangle is made up of about mag 4ish stars, but there are 2 mag 3s at the top and one at the bottom corner. Best viewing later in July and into August, visible until about December.
  • Alpha Cap (double star)
    • Relatively bright star at the very top of the squishy triangle in Capricornus, mag 3ish. Visible until about December.
  • Beta Cap (double star)
    • Relatively bright star under the very top star / Alpha Cap, also about mag 3. Visible until about December.
  • M16, Eagle Nebula (deep sky object)
    • Try using the two stars that make up the right/western side of the teapot (where the spout attaches, Kaus Media and Kaus Australis) to draw a line up to M16. It's about 15º or the width of your hand in the stop gesture. Visible until about November
  • M17, Swan Nebula (deep sky object)
    • M17 is just down and to the left of M16 by about 2 finger widths. You should be able to see both in one binocular field of view. Visible until about November.
  • M24, Sagittarius Star Cloud (deep sky object)
    • Lower still than M17 by about 2 finger widths again. They're all in a line! This one is just a big fuzzy area of stars and you can technically see it naked eye if you're in dark enough skies. Visible until about November.
  • M4 (deep sky object)
    • Look for Antares (big, red star on the southern horizon) and move one finger width westward. It forms a squat isosceles triangle with the next bright star over, Alniyat. It's an open cluster, so you're just looking for a bunch of stars. Visible until September but only from southern latitudes.


Last modified: 
Wednesday, August 5, 2020 - 11:18am