Monday 15th to Sunday 21st August 2022
Firstly a reminder that it is still a great time to observe the rings of Saturn at their brightest because the planet is close to opposition with the Sun. If you go outside around 10pm local time, Saturn will be quite low towards the south east, with Jupiter rising above the horizon to the east. If you stay up later, the pair will gradually climb a bit higher in the sky and this gives better viewing because the Sunlight reflecting from them will then be travelling through our atmosphere at a sharper angle which results in less disturbance.
The bright star Altair will be above Saturn. It's important to realise that stars don't twinkle and the light radiating from them is a relatively constant source. But then if you look at Altair, I bet you will notice it twinkling-away like a good 'un. That's only because the light is being twisted by our atmosphere. The higher an object is in the night sky then the less atmosphere its light has to travel through and so the effects are lessened.
If you stay up until around 1am, everything will appear to have rotated around and Saturn will be more towards the south, with Jupiter towards the south east. Of course they haven't really moved - it's us that has rotated as the Earth spins on its axis! The Moon will have risen above the horizon close to Jupiter and Mars will have popped up a little north of due east.
Go outside at the same time on subsequent evenings during the week and the planets will appear to be in a similar position, but not the Moon as it is following a completely different path - orbiting around us. At 1am on Saturday 20th, the Moon will appear to be in the east, forming an isosceles triangle with Mars and the Pleiades cluster of stars.
Screenshots courtesy of Stellarium
Copyright Adrian Dening and Radio Ninesprings 2022