Tour August’s Sky! | July 29th, 2008

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S&T: Lauren Darby
Many skywatchers circle August on their calendars because it's the month for the annual Perseid meteor shower. This year the Perseids should peak before dawn on the morning of August 12th, and the view should be fine once a gibbous Moon sets.

One thing that confuses a lot of people about the nighttime sky is why the Moon goes through its monthly cycle of phases — from new to full and back to new. But, as Kelly Beatty explains on this month's podcast, understanding the Moon's changing shape is a snap if you have a Ping-Pong ball!

Speaking of the Moon, this month features a total solar eclipse on August 1st and a partial lunar eclipse two weeks later on the 16th. But neither event is observable from the Americas.

And don't miss bright Jupiter in the southeast after dark. The king of planets currently reigns supreme (except for the Moon) in the nighttime sky. But its dominance will be challenged as August slides into September by dazzling Venus, which is creeping up in the west after sunset.

Get all these details and more by downloading August's audio sky tour. It's a 6-megabyte MP3 file that runs 6m 24s.

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