Stargazing: What to see in the night sky tonight, August 2022

What can you see in the night sky tonight? Find out in our monthly stargazing guide.

What to see in the night sky tonight. Credit: Carlos Fernandez / Getty Images
Published: August 1, 2022 at 11:21 am
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Those of us who enjoy stargazing and observing the night sky can't always plan when and where we're going to get the chance to gaze upwards.

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Busy schedules, light pollution, the weather: sometimes finding even just 30 minutes to stand and stare up at a clear, dark night sky and take in the planets, stars and constellations can be a feat in itself.

So when you do find the time, you'll need to know what's visible in the night sky, and the best things to look out for when stargazing.

Milky Way over Namthing Pokhri Lake Basudeb Chakrabarti, West Bengal, India, 13 March 2022 Equipment: Nikon D5200 DSLR, Tokina 11–16mm lens, tripod
Milky Way over Namthing Pokhri Lake Basudeb Chakrabarti, West Bengal, India, 13 March 2022 Equipment: Nikon D5200 DSLR, Tokina 11–16mm lens, tripod

Here's our stargazing guide to what you can see in the night sky tonight. Our guide is centred around what's visible from the UK, but all northern hemisphere observers should be able to use it, with the odd adjustment to stated times.

In our guide, we use Universal Time (UT) and British Summer Time (BST). UT is the standard time used by astronomers around the world. BST is one hour ahead of UT

We also use RA (Right ascension) and dec. (declination). These coordinates are the night sky’s equivalent of longitude and latitude, describing where an object is on the celestial ‘globe’. For help with these, read our guide to celestial coordinates.

For more advice, read our guide on how to stargaze or sign up to receive the BBC Sky at Night Magazine e-newsletter for weekly tips delivered directly to your email inbox.

What's visible in the night sky tonight?

All Month

Noctilucent clouds season runs from late May through to early August, July being an excellent month to look out for these elusive high-altitude ice clouds.

August represents the last chance to see brightening Comet C/2017 K2 PanSTARRS from the UK. The comet starts the month in southern Ophiuchus, ending August near the claws of Scorpius and continuing to brighten all the while before reaching perihelion in December.

Tuesday 2 August

Mag. +5.8 planet Uranus appears just 1.3º north of mag. +0.2 Mars this morning. The pair are located about 20º above the eastern horizon at 02:30 BST (01:30 UT). Binoculars may give a view of dim Uranus.

Wednesday 3 August

Magnitude –0.3 Mercury is roughly 1º from mag. +1.3 Regulus on 3 and 4 August, making it a possible telescope target for daytime viewing. If you try, however, take care as the Sun will be just 18º to the west.

Tips:

  • Use a small/ medium scope (reflector/SCT under 6 inches, refractor under 4 inches)
  • Photo opp: use a CCD, planetary camera or standard DSLR

Thursday 4 August

Lunar X by Steve Farrington, Blackpool, UK. Equipment: Nikon D7200, Sigma 150-600mm.
Lunar X by Steve Farrington, Blackpool, UK. Equipment: Nikon D7200, Sigma 150-600mm.

The clair-obscur effects known as the lunar X and V will be visible on the terminator of this afternoon’s 42%-lit waxing crescent Moon. The effects will be formed around 19:20 BST (18:20 UT) when the Moon is just to the west of south in the daytime sky.

Tips:

  • Use a small/ medium scope (reflector/SCT under 6 inches, refractor under 4 inches)
  • Photo opp: use a CCD, planetary camera or standard DSLR

Sunday 7 August

With just a week to go before Saturn's opposition, this is the time to start noting the relative brightness of Saturn's rings compared to its disc. Over the next evenings, the rings will slowly brighten to a peak at opposition on 14 August.

Tips:

  • Use a small/medium scope (reflector/SCT under 6 inches, refractor under 4 inches)
  • Photo opp: Use a CCD, planetary camera or standard DSLR

Thursday 11 August

Moon reiner gamma
Credit: Pete Lawrence

See if you can spot the albedo feature Reiner Gamma on the Moon, a bright swirl on the surface of Oceanus Procellarum. Unlike relief features, which require oblique lighting to see at their best, albedo features are best seen around full Moon.

Tips:

  • Observe with the naked eye: allow 20 minutes for your eyes to become dark-adapted
  • Photo opp: Use a CCD, planetary camera or standard DSLR

Friday 12 August

The full Moon lies 5.1º south of mag. +0.3 Saturn in the early hours of this morning. Catch the pairing as darkness falls on 11 August until closest just before moonset at 05:30 BST (04:30 UT) on 12 August.

Tips:

  • Observe with the naked eye: allow 20 minutes for your eyes to become dark-adapted
  • Photo opp: Use a CCD, planetary camera or standard DSLR

Saturday 13 August

This morning plays host to the peak of the Perseid meteor shower.

Tips:

  • Observe with the naked eye: allow 20 minutes for your eyes to become dark-adapted

Sunday 14 August

Saturn’s rings appear brighter near to opposition than at other times, as this compare and contrast shows. Credit: Pete Lawrence
Saturn’s rings appear brighter near to opposition than at other times, as this compare and contrast shows. Credit: Pete Lawrence

The planet Saturn reaches opposition today, a time when its rings should appear at their brightest due to the so-called ‘opposition effect’.

Tips:

  • Use a small/medium scope (reflector/SCT under 6 inches, refractor under 4 inches)
  • Photo opp: Use a CCD, planetary camera or standard DSLR

Monday 15 August

This morning’s 87%-lit waning gibbous Moon lies 6º from mag. –2.6 Jupiter.

  • Observe with the naked eye: allow 20 minutes for your eyes to become dark-adapted
  • Photo opp: Use a CCD, planetary camera or standard DSLR

Friday 19 August

The Pleiades Callum Wingrove, Stanmore, London, 2 and 3 November 2021 Equipment: ZWO ASI1600MM Pro camera, SharpStar 94EDPH triplet apo refractor, Sky-Watcher HEQ5 Pro mount
The Pleiades, by Callum Wingrove, Stanmore, London, 2 and 3 November 2021.

Magnitude 0.0 Mars sits 5.7º south of the Pleiades open cluster this morning. As the sky begins to brighten, the last quarter Moon will also be nearby, sitting a fraction less than 4º from Mars.

Tips:

  • Observe with the naked eye: allow 20 minutes for your eyes to become dark-adapted
  • Photo opp: Use a CCD, planetary camera or standard DSLR

Saturday 20 August

A 41%-lit waning crescent Moon, magnitude 0.0 Mars and the Pleiades form an isosceles triangle this morning, an attractive sight if you have clear skies.

Tips:

  • Observe with the naked eye: allow 20 minutes for your eyes to become dark-adapted
  • Photo opp: Use a CCD, planetary camera or standard DSLR

Tuesday 23 August

Minor planet 4 Vesta tracks past the Helix Nebula in August 2022. Credit: Pete Lawrence

Minor planet 4 Vesta reaches opposition at mag. +6.0.

Tips:

  • 10x50 binoculars recommended
  • Photo opp: use a CCD, planetary camera or standard DSLR

Thursday 25 August

M44 - Behive Cluster ("Praesepe") in Cancer by Bill McSorley, Leeds, UK. Equipment: SW 150P Newtonian, HEQ5Pro Mount, QHY8L cooled ccd.
M44 - Behive Cluster ("Praesepe") in Cancer by Bill McSorley, Leeds, UK. Equipment: SW 150P Newtonian, HEQ5Pro Mount, QHY8L cooled ccd.

A 4%-lit waning crescent Moon sits 3º north of the Beehive Cluster, M44, very low above the east-northeast horizon just before dawn. View from around 04:00 BST (03:00 UT). 40 minutes later, mag. –3.8 Venus appears.

Tips:

  • 10x50 binoculars recommended
  • Photo opp: use a CCD, planetary camera or standard DSLR

Friday 26 August

A 1%-lit waning crescent Moon lies 4.5º northeast (left as seen from the UK) of mag. –3.8 Venus this morning. Catch them together from 05:00 BST (04:00 UT).

Tips:

  • Observe with the naked eye: allow 20 minutes for your eyes to become dark-adapted
  • Photo opp: Use a CCD, planetary camera or standard DSLR

Sunday 28 August

Catch a very thin and beautiful 2%-lit waxing crescent Moon low above the west horizon just after sunset this evening. The Moon sets approximately 50 minutes after the Sun.

Tips:

  • Observe with the naked eye: allow 20 minutes for your eyes to become dark-adapted
  • Photo opp: Use a CCD, planetary camera or standard DSLR
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This guide originally appeared in the August 2022 issue of BBC Sky at Night Magazine.

Authors

Pete Lawrence, astronomer and BBC The Sky at Night presenter.
Pete LawrenceAstronomer and presenter

Pete Lawrence is an experienced astronomer and astrophotographer, and a presenter on BBC's The Sky at Night.

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