19659004] In fact, Mars will be the closest on Tuesday with just under 36.8 million miles. Mars will be by far the brightest star-shaped object in the southern half of the sky, with an easily recognizable red-orange glow, even though it is more salmon-colored with the dust storm. Mars rises in the southeast early in the evening and sets in at dawn in the southwest.
Mars may make headlines in August, but Jupiter and Saturn are also fantastic telescope targets, with Jupiter moons and Saturn ring system. At nightfall, Jupiter shines bright in the south-southwestern sky and Saturn is in the lower south-southeastern sky directly to the left below. Jupiter is almost as bright as Mars. Meanwhile, the very bright planet Venus appears at dusk in the deepest western sky, but sets in shortly thereafter.
In addition to the planet show, we also have a meteor shower in August. The Perseiden meteor shower, one of the best meteor showers of the year, reaches its peak at the beginning of next week around the 11th to 13th of August. It will be wonderful this year because the moon will be quite far from the sky by then, and the meteorites, or "shooting stars," will be much more visible in the darker skies. Next week I will have more information about the Perseids.
The low southern sky of August is home to classic constellations, along with Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. There Scorpius is the scorpion with the bright, brick-red star Antares in the heart of the scorpion. It is one of the few constellations that looks like it should be. In the low southeastern sky is Sagittarius, who is said to be a half man / half horse shooting an arrow. Forget it. Most of the people I know call it "Top Tea".
The brightest star in the night sky is Arcturus, which stands in the high western sky. Arcturus is also the brightest star in the constellation Bootes the Hunting Farmer. Bootes looks more like a giant dragon, with the orange-red star Arcturus on the tail of the kite.
The second brightest star in the evening sky is Vega, the bright star in a small, weak constellation called Lyra the Lyre or Harp. Vega is a bright bluish-white star, high above the eastern sky, almost overhead. Vega and the small weak parallelogram in the lower east of Vega are to outline a sky harp in the sky. If you are calm enough, you can even hear the music.
If you look further east, you will notice two other bright stars forming a triangle with Vega. This is known as the "summer triangle". The star on the bottom left of Vega is Deneb, the brightest star in Cygnus the Swan, also known as the "Northern Cross", for obvious reasons. The star to the right of Vega is Altair, the brightest star in the constellation Aquila the Eagle.
In the northern sky we have the famous dipper. The Big Dipper, which is actually the back end and the tail of the Big Bear Ursa Major, casually hangs on its grip, or tail, if you like, in the high northwestern sky. The little car, which resembles the Little Bear, stands on its grip and is much denser than the Big Dipper. Unfortunately, it is almost invisible in the metro area, except for the outer ring of the suburbs. The only really bright star in the Little Carriage is Polaris, also known as the North Star, at the end of the handle.
Polaris is by no means the brightest star in the sky, but it's the "lynch pin" Every single star and planet, including the sun and the moon, seems to spin around it every 24 hours. That's because the Pole Star shines directly over the North Pole of Earth, and as our world revolves, all stars seem to whirl around the North Star.