night sky guide august 2017

NOTE: This guide is written for southern hemisphere observers. Much of the content is still relevant for those in the northern hemisphere, however, the precise time and location will vary to those noted.

Observing Highlights

  • Total Solar Eclipse visible from much of the continental USA.
  • Partial Lunar Eclipse visible across Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia
  • Jupiter and Saturn are high in the evening sky just after sunset.
  • Mercury will be just above the western horizon shortly after sunset.
  • Conjunction: Jupiter, Spica and the crescent Moon on the 25th and 26th.
  • Venus very bright in the pre-dawn sky.


Mercury is relatively easy to spot this month and can be found close to the western horizon just after sunset. As August progresses, it will move back towards the Sun, and will soon be lost in the bright twilight sky.

Venus can be found shining like a beacon in the predawn, eastern sky this month. On the 19th, the planet will be joined by the waning crescent Moon.

Mars is currently behind the Sun, and not visible again until mid-September.

Jupiter can be found in the western sky, close to the bright star, Spica. The pair are joined by the waxing crescent Moon on the 25th of the month. August is the best remaining month this year for observing Jupiter, as the planet is moving slowly back towards conjunction in October.

jupiter moon and spica conjunction - 25th August 2017

Jupiter, the Moon, and the bright star Spica, together in the western sky – 25th August

Saturn appears as a bright, creamy-coloured point of light almost directly overhead. It is well-positioned for observation right the way through August, and it is joined by the Moon twice – on the 3rd and the 30th.

Uranus rises in the eastern sky around 11pm this month, and reaches its highest point a little before dawn.

Neptune can be found rising in the eastern sky an hour or two after sunset.

The Moon

Full Moon

August 8th

Partial Lunar Eclipse

Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia .svg

Last Quarter

August 15th

New Moon

August 22nd*

Total Solar Eclipse

United States of America

First Quarter

August 29th


August 3rd

405,025 km

August 30th

404,308 km


August 18th

366,121 km

 * The best time for viewing the Milky Way, Nebulae, Galaxies, and other faint objects is around this date

Meteor Showers

  • Perseids  –  Peak Sunday 13th August (Best viewed in the Northern Hemisphere)


The constellation of Aquila


“The Eagle”: This constellation is thought to represent the eagle in Greek mythology that bore Zeus’ thunderbolts.

Brightest Star: Altair

The constellation Corona Australis

Corona Australis

“The Southern Crown”: One of the 48 constellations listed by the astronomer Ptolemy in the second century.

Brightest Stars: Alpha and Beta Coronae Australis

The constellation of Lyra


“The Lyre”: Lyra is one of the 48 constellations listed by the astronomer Ptolemy in the second century.

Brightest Star: Vega

The constellation of Pavo


“The Peacock”: Pavo first was first recorded in 1598 on a celestial globe by Petrus Plancius and Jodocus Hondius.

Brightest Star: Alpha Pavonis – also known as “Peacock”

The constellation Sagitta - The arrow


“The Arrow”: Third smallest constellation in the night sky, Sagitta is on of the 48 constellations described by the astronomer Ptolemy in the second century.

Brightest Star: Gamma Sagittae

The constellation Sagittarius


“The Archer”: Generally depicted as a centaur holding a bow and arrow, the westernmost region of Sagittarius contains the core of the Milky Way Galaxy.

Brightest Star: Epsilon Sagitarii (Kaus Australis – “The Southern Part of the Bow”)

The constellation Scutum - The shield


“The Shield”: Scutum was originally named “Scutum Sobiescianum” (Shield of Sobieski) in 1684 by Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius to commemorate the victory of the Christian forces in the Battle of Vienna in 1683.

Brightest Star: Alpha Scuti

The Constellation of Telescopium - the Telescope


“The Telescope”: First introduced by French astronomer Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille in 1751-2, it was originally named “le Telescope”.

Brightest Star: Alpha Telescopii