PLAN YOUR ADVENTURE

Choose from a spectacular, fulldome show in state-of-the-art Sudekum Planetarium; hands-on, interactive, science exhibits; or one of our award-winning programs like daily Science Live! demonstrations, 3D Printing Workshops, ScienceQuest Camps, Science Cafes, and other special events.

  800 Fort Negley Blvd., Nashville, TN 37203

 OPEN DAILY: Mon-Sun,10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
 CLOSED: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve Day, and Christmas Day

Get Tickets

Star Charts

DOWNLOADABLE STAR CHART

Click image to download

August 2018

After Sunset

As the sky begins to darken after sunset, look to the west for brilliant Venus. This ‘evening star’ will remain visible in the early evening through late summer. Look for a slim crescent Moon just above Venus on August 14.

In the early summer, the Big Dipper is easy to find in the northwest after sunset. Connect the dots to imagine a big spoon or ladle high above.

The Big Dipper is not officially a constellation; it’s what astronomers sometimes call an asterism. It’s a familiar name for this pattern of stars, especially used by observers in the United States, but it’s not one of the 88 constellations recognized by astronomers worldwide. Ursa Major the Great Bear is the official constellation here, but you’ll need dark skies to see its fainter stars.

Use the two stars at the end of the Dipper’s bowl to lead you to Polaris, also known as the North Star. Polaris is not a particularly bright star, but it does remain fixed in the sky throughout the night and throughout the year. When you face the North Star, you’re facing due north. Polaris is at the end of the handle of the Little Dipper. This group of stars is also officially known as Ursa Minor the Little Bear.

Follow the curved handle of the Big Dipper to trace an ‘arc’ to Arcturus, the orange colored star in Boötes the Herdsman. Then speed on to Spica, the single bright star in Virgo the Maiden. Neither of these constellations has any other bright stars. Even under dark skies away from city lights, it’s hard to imagine these mythological figures just by connecting the dots.

In the southwest is the bright planet Jupiter. If you have binoculars, you may be able to see the giant planet’s four largest moons. Watch Jupiter’s moons over several nights to watch them orbit around their parent planet. If you have trouble steadying your binocular view on Jupiter, try leaning them up against the side of a building or another steady surface.

A small telescope not only shows the moons of Jupiter, but also its cloud bands. Jupiter has stripes! Look for the Moon next to Jupiter on the 16th and 17th.

Low in the south, find the bright red star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion. To the east of Scorpius is Sagittarius the Archer. To modern eyes, this constellation looks more like a teapot. Just above the teapot’s lid is Saturn, another great target for small telescopes.

As you gaze in the area of Sagittarius, you’re looking in the direction of the center of our Milky Way galaxy. Scan the area with binoculars or a small telescope to find countless star clusters and nebulas in this part of the sky.

Earth made a close approach to Mars in its orbit last month, but it’s still brilliant and hard to miss in the southeast sky. Mars may be close and bright, but it’s also a small planet. It takes a good telescope (and good conditions) to see much of anything on the red planet’s surface.

Stay Up Late

Near midnight, the Summer Triangle is high overhead. These three bright stars are part of three separate constellations: Cygnus the SwanLyra the Harp, and Aquila the Eagle.

Under especially dark skies, look for the band of the Milky Way stretching from Sagittarius low in the southwest, through the Summer Triangle, and on to the northeastern horizon.

A Look Ahead

As the Earth orbits the Sun throughout the year, the constellations rise and set just a little bit earlier every day. You won’t see much difference from night to night, but you will over the course of weeks or months. What we see in today’s pre-dawn sky is a preview of the early evening sky in later months. Go out before dawn this month for a look ahead at the summer night sky.

Just before dawn, the Summer Triangle is high in the west. Autumn constellations such as Pegasus the Flying Horse and Andromeda the Princess are high overhead. Low in the east we can see winter favorite Orion the Hunter just rising.

Perseid Meteor Shower

On the night of August 12 and morning of August 13, don’t miss the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower. The darker the sky you’re under, the more ‘shooting stars’ you’ll see. The Perseids typically put on a good show, and this year there won’t be a bright Moon to wash out the view. Find a comfortable spot of open sky. Relax, face east, stargaze and meteor-watch! Bring some friends! Be patient. Under ideal conditions, there may only be one meteor per minute on average.

Meteor showers are usually best after midnight. If you won’t want to be out early on a Monday morning, Sunday morning the 12th should be good as well.

Meteors from the Perseid shower consist of debris left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle. Every year, Earth passes through this trail of tiny particles. These particles burn up as they fall through our atmosphere, resulting in the distinctive swift streaks of light we call meteors.

800 Fort Negley Blvd. Nashville, TN 37203
615-862-5160
Hours: 10:00am - 5:00pm
© 2018 Adventure Science Center. | Sitemap