WHAT'S UP IN AUGUST
- 18th 1985, spacecraft Suisei launched for an encounter with Comet Hailey.
- 19th 1646 John Flamsteed (royal astronomer) was born.
- 20th 2006 Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet.
- 20th 1984 Space Shuttle Discovery first flight.
- 25th 1822 Sir William Herschel died.
- 27th 1962 Mariner2 launched for Venus flyby.
During August, five planets can be seen in the evening sky. This hasn't happened since 2005 and won't be seen again till 2018. The palnets are Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Venus and Mercury.
There are some close encounters this month as well.
- On the 5th early on the evening, Jupiter, Mercury and Venus line up nicely with the star Regulus close to Venus. A crescent moon adds to the spectacle.
- Later in the month Mars sits in the middle between Antares and Saturn.
- On the 27th Jupiter and Venus have a close encounter.
August 12 sees the peak of the Perseids Meteor Shower. While they are bright and around 100 per hr for northern hemisphere viewers, Brisbanites can expect to see around 6 per hour.
Constellation of the month
The Southern Crown or Corona Australis. Bordered by Sagittarius and below the tail of Scorpius. Corona Australis lies around 130 light years away. It's latin name means Southern Crown and its the southern counterpart of Corana Borealis. It is one of 48 constellations listed by 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy and is one of todays 88 named constellations. Some cultures see it as a turtle, ostrich nest or tent..
Although fainter than its namesake, the oval- or horseshoe-shaped pattern of its brighter stars renders it distinctive. Alpha and Beta Coronae Australis are the two brightest stars with an apparent magnitude of around 4.1. Epsilon Coronae Australis is the brightest example of a W Ursae Majoris variable in the southern sky. Lying alongside the Milky Way, Corona Australis contains one of the closest star-forming regions to the Solar System—a dusty dark nebula known as the Corona Australis Molecular Cloud, lying about 430 light years away. Within it are stars at the earliest stages of their lifespan. The variable stars R and TY Coronae Australis light up parts of the nebula, which varies in brightness accordingly.
Note: The information on this page is for viewers in Brisbane Australia. There are other significant astronomical events during 2016, such as a Solar Eclipse and a Transit of Mercury, but these cannot be seen from Brisbane so are not included.
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