Astronomy Essentials

Visible planets and night sky August 2022

Planets in the evening sky

The action is moving to the evening sky! Woo-hoo! By early August, Saturn is rising as darkness falls, as it approaches its August 14 opposition. Jupiter – 2nd-brightest only to Venus – is rising by late evening. Jupiter will reach opposition on September 26. Mercury, too, will have a great evening apparition in August 2022 … for the Southern Hemisphere. Conversely, for us in the Northern Hemisphere, Mercury will hug the evening twilight horizon throughout August. But, a careful search with binoculars might bring the little planet into view.

Planets in the morning sky

And the mornings? Mars still isn’t up until the wee hours, but the red planet continues to brighten and appear redder as it races toward its December 8 opposition. On August mornings, four bright planets arc across the sky: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars and also Venus, brightest planet of them all, continuing its early morning dominance for now. Venus will disappear into the sunrise glare in early September, pass most directly behind the sun on October 22, and emerge again into the evening sky before the year’s end.

Note: Our charts are mostly set for the northern half of Earth. To see a precise view from your location, try Stellarium Web.

Looking for a dark sky? Try EarthSky’s Best Places to Stargaze

In this article:

Visible planets and night sky guide August, 2022

Early to mid-August: Perseid meteor shower

The Perseid meteor shower peaks on the mornings of August 11, 12 and 13, but a bright moon will be in the way. Luckily, the Perseids are best viewed from midnight to sunrise. You might try watching shortly before dawn on the mornings of August 8 and 9. Be sure to watch in a dark sky. Read more about the Perseids in 2022. Chart via John Jardine Goss / EarthSky.

The instant of full moon is 1:36 UTC on August 12

August 11 to 13 mornings: Perseid meteor shower competes with bright moon

The 2022 Perseid meteor shower peaks on the mornings of August 11, 12 and 13, but will be bathed in moonlight. Don’t worry though, you can still see and photograph meteors … like this moonlit meteor, taken on November 1, 2015 by Eliot Herman in Tucson, Arizona. He wrote: “I have 2 rules for meteors: avoid the moon, if possible, and if not embrace the situation. Make the adjustments and accept that, while the photos probably won’t be epic, it’s possible to record the good ones. The moon isn’t so bad. Clouds are …” Read more: 6 tips for 2022’s Perseid meteors.

August 12-13 overnight: Moon between planets Saturn and Jupiter

The bright moon – now past full and in a waning gibbous phase – glows between 2 planets, Saturn and bright Jupiter, on the night of August 12 and into the morning of August 13. Saturn reaches opposition on August 14. Read more about the moon between Saturn and Jupiter. Chart via John Jardine Goss / EarthSky.

Saturn reaches opposition at 17 UTC on August 14

August 14 and 15 mornings: Moon near planets Jupiter and Saturn

In the early morning hours of August 14 and 15, the waning gibbous moon is sweeping past Jupiter. Saturn – at opposition, or opposite the sun from Earth – is nearby. Read more about the moon near Jupiter. Chart via John Jardine Goss / EarthSky.

August 16, 17 and 18 mornings: Moon moving away from Jupiter

As the waning gibbous moon approaches its 3rd quarter phase, it moves away from bright Jupiter on the mornings of August 16, 17 and 18. Read more about Jupiter and the moon. Chart via John Jardine Goss / EarthSky.

The instant of last quarter moon is 4:36 UTC on August 19

August 19 and 20 mornings: Mars near moon

The moon, now in a waning crescent phase, moves past bright red Mars on the mornings of August 19 and 20. Now is a great time to start watching Mars as it continues to brighten and grow in size while racing toward opposition on December 8, 2022. The reddish star near Mars is Aldebaran, the eye of Taurus the Bull. Also beautiful Pleiades glimmers nearby with Orion the Hunter, lower in the sky. The 3rd quarter moon occurs at 04:36 UTC on August 19. Read more about Mars and the moon. Chart via John Jardine Goss / EarthSky.

In August 2022, use Saturn to see the ‘arrowhead’ in Capricornus

On August evenings in 2022, Saturn is in front of the faint constellation Capricornus the Sea-Goat. At its August 14 opposition, Saturn rises in the east at sunset and is visible all night. But a bright moon is also in the sky then. If you wait until a bit later in the month, you’ll find Saturn rising just after sunset, and in a darker sky. And then if your sky is truly dark, you can use Saturn to guide your eye to the faint “arrowhead” shape of Capricornus in our sky. Chart via John Jardine Goss / EarthSky.

August 25 morning: Venus and moon

The very thin waning crescent moon, seemingly full with earthshine, glows right by bright Venus 40 minutes before sunrise on August 25. You can’t miss bright Procyon and dazzling Sirius nearby in the morning sky. The new moon occurs a few days later, at 08:17 UTC on August 27. Read more about Venus and the moon. Chart via John Jardine Goss / EarthSky.

The instant of new moon is 8:17 UTC on August 27

Mercury reaches greatest elongation at 16 UTC on August 27

August 29 evening: Mercury and the moon

After hovering in the western sky after sunset – hard to see by northern observers, but great from the Southern Hemisphere, Mercury reaches its greatest elongation (greatest apparent distance from the sun) at 16 UTC on August 27. At that point, it is 27 degrees from the sunset. But, from the Northern Hemisphere, the geometry is poor. And, despite its distance from the sunset, Mercury hugs the horizon after sunset … still tough to see. On August 29, though, the thin waxing crescent moon, complete with earthshine, offers a chance! Notice that the lighted portion of the crescent on August 29 points to Mercury. Use binoculars, and scan near the horizon as soon as the sky begins to darken. The bright stars nearby are Spica and the red giant Arcturus, the brightest star in the northern half of the sky. Read more about Mercury and the moon. Chart via John Jardine Goss / EarthSky.

August-October 2022 heliocentric solar system planets

The sun-centered charts below come from Guy Ottewell. You’ll find charts like these for every month of 2022 here, in his Astronomical Calendar. Guy Ottewell explains:

In these views from ecliptic north, arrows (thinner when south of the ecliptic plane) are the paths of the four inner planets. Dots along the rest of the orbits are five days apart (and are black for the part of its course that a planet has trodden since the beginning of the year). Also, semicircles show the sunlit side of the new and full moon (vastly exaggerated in size and distance). Additionally, pairs of lines point outward to the more remote planets.

Phenomena such as perihelia (represented by ticks) and conjunctions (represented by lines between planets) are at dates that can be found in the Astronomical Calendar. Likewise, Gray covers the half of the universe below the horizon around 10 p.m. at mid-month (as seen from the equator). The zodiacal constellations are in directions from the Earth at mid-month (not from the sun).

View larger. | Heliocentric view of the solar system, August 2022. Chart via Guy Ottewell.
View larger. | Heliocentric view of solar system, September 2022. Chart via Guy Ottewell.
View larger. | Heliocentric view of solar system, October 2022. Chart via Guy Ottewell.

Some resources to enjoy

Don’t miss anything. Subscribe to daily emails from EarthSky. It’s free!

Visit EarthSky’s Best Places to Stargaze to find a dark-sky location near you.

Post your own night sky photos at EarthSky Community Photos.

Translate Universal Time (UTC) to your time.

See the indispensable Observer’s Handbook, from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Visit Stellarium-Web.org for precise views from your location.

Visit TheSkyLive for precise views from your location.

Back by popular demand! Guy Ottewell’s Astronomical Calendar for 2022.

Great resource and beautiful wall chart: Guy Ottewell’s zodiac wavy chart.

Guy Ottewell’s Zodiac Wavy Chart is a 2-by-3 foot (0.6 by 0.9 meter) poster displaying the movements of the sun, moon and planets throughout the year. You can purchase it here.

Bottom line: Time to look for meteors! The Delta Aquariids and Perseids are beckoning, but will compete with a full supermoon.

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Posted 
July 19, 2022
 in 
Astronomy Essentials

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