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First quarter moon between Mars and Saturn on August 3

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Tonight for August 3, 2014

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Our sky chart (above) shows the first quarter moon and the planets Mars and Saturn, as they appear on the evening of August 3, 2014 from North America. No matter where you live worldwide, look for the moon as evening falls. You’ll see it at or near first quarter phase, and in close vicinity of the planets Mars and Saturn.

From some Southern Hemisphere locations on August 4, the moon will pass in front of Saturn. The online telescopic viewing website Slooh will feature this event. The Observer’s Handbook of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada said:

In 2014, Saturn and the moon are in a cycle of 13 occultations that advance from Antarctica through the Northern Hemisphere over the year. The only occultation from a populated area of North America crosses the eastern U.S. and southeastern Canada, taking place (in daytime) on August 31.

The first quarter moon falls on August 4, at 0:50 Universal Time. Although the first quarter moon happens at the same instant worldwide, the clock reads differently by time zone. At the U.S. time zones, the first quarter moon occurs on the evening of August 3, at 8:50 p.m. EDT, 7:50 p.m. CDT, 6:50 p.m. MST or 5:50 p.m. PDT.

The half-lit first quarter moon is 50% illuminated by sunshine and 50% covered over in the moon’s own shadow. The terminator – shadow line dividing the lunar day from lunar night – shows you where it’s sunrise on the waxing moon. Scan along the terminator with binoculars or the telescope for your best three-dimensional views of the lunar terrain. Watch the moon in the evenings ahead, as the moon moves past Saturn and toward the star Antares.

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If you were on the first quarter moon, looking back at our planet Earth, you’d see a half-lit last quarter Earth. The terminator – the shadow line dividing day and night – would show you where it’s sunset on waning last quarter Earth.

Simulation of the last quarter Earth (without clouds) from the vantage point of the first quarter moon (2014 August 4 at 0:50 UTC). Image credit: Earth and Moon Viewer

Simulation of the last quarter Earth (without clouds) from the vantage point of the first quarter moon (2014 August 4 at 0:50 UTC). Image credit: Earth and Moon Viewer

Bottom line: No matter where you live worldwide, look for the moon as evening falls on August 3, 2014. It’ll appear half-illuminated, shining near the planets Mars and Saturn.

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