…continuedSky Highlights of 2008
July to September
July opens with a pretty scene in the west at dusk. Mars and Saturn have drifted past Regulus, and on the 5th and 6th they’re joined by a crescent Moon. On the 10th Mars slides past Saturn, less than a degree below the ringed planet. On the opposite side of the sky, Jupiter rises as the Sun sets, is visible all night, and is therefore well-placed for telescopic viewing.
August is a busy month. Every year, during the morning hours of the12th, the Perseid meteors put on a display. It’s one of the better meteor showers: up to 60 meteors an hour can be seen streaming from a point in the northeast just below the W of Cassiopeia. And this year August hosts a pair of eclipses: a total eclipse of the Sun on the 1st, and a partial eclipse of the Moon on the 16th. See our 2008 eclipse article for details.
If you can find Venus low in the west shortly after sunset on September 11th, look carefully for Mars tucked in beside it. Can you also find faint Mercury to their lower left? Eight evenings later, if you live in the northeastern United States or eastern Canada, turn your attention to the Moon and watch it pass through the Pleiades Star Cluster.
The eastern half of North America is favored again when Neptune vanishes behind the nearly full Moon on September 12th; you’ll need a telescope to see it. When the Moon isn’t around, everyone can seek out both Uranus and Neptune in a small telescope, or binoculars if you have a really dark sky. Surprisingly few stargazers have spotted these two worlds. But it's quite easy to do with the help of our handy observing guide.