The Plough lies north west with the ‘W’ of Cassiopeia at the same height in the north east. The four stars that make the square of Pegasus are becoming more noticeable in the north east. The summer triangle of stars Altair, Deneb and Vega are still very prominent. Arcturus is dropping to the west while Antares is now past its best.
The southern part of the sky is still taken up by the formless Hercules, Ophiuchus and Serpens. Other faint constellations are appearing low in the south east; these are Capricornus and Aquarius, and although both lie in the zodiac there is nothing else to recommend them.
Mars and Saturn are visible low in the south, Mars is blazing away at magnitude –0.5 Saturn is just to the left shining at half the brightness of the red planet. This will be the last month when it will be easy to see them. The other planets Jupiter, Mercury and Venus are very close to the Sun and cannot be seen.
The most anticipated meteor shower of the year, the Perseids will peak on the night on August 12/13 when around 80 meteors per hour can be seen, although many meteors will be seen a day either side. They will be travelling anywhere from 20 to 50 miles per second and as they heat up and are destroyed we see the result of their destruction in the form of a brief streak of light across the sky.
The Perseids are connected with comet Swift-Tuttle which was discovered by Lewis swift and Horrace Tuttle in 1862. The comet takes 133 years to obit the Sun. However the meteor shower has a very long history. It should be possible to see the Perseids after about 11pm, at first from the north east but as the night goes on all over the sky.
Phases of the Moon for August are:-
New Moon on August 2nd
First Quarter August 10th
Full Moon August 18th
Last Quarter August 25th