August begins with Saturn above the bright star Spica, in Virgo, and Mars to the west, all near the sunset horizon. The Red Planet glides eastward, passing between Saturn and Spica on the 13th. On the 21st, the three objects form a nearly equilateral triangle above a crescent moon.
The Perseid meteor shower peaks the night of August 11-12. This should be a good year for it, since the first meteors come into view around 10 to 11 p.m., at least two hours before moonrise.
Full moons fall on August 1 and 31, but the second may not be a “true” blue moon. The Maine Farmers’ Almanac defined a blue moon as the third of four when four occur in a season. But a misreading of the almanac led to the notion that a blue moon is the second of two full moons in a month. Take your pick.
The full harvest moon shines the night of September 29. This moon has long helped farmers working late to harvest crops because around the time of fullness it rises as little as 20 minutes later from night to night. October’s full hunter’s moon comes on the 29th.
In the morning sky, Jupiter, in Taurus, gets a visit from the moon September 8. The moon visits brilliant Venus on the 12th, and Venus passes south of the faint but lovely Beehive star cluster on the 13th and 14th. In August bright Arcturus leads the kite-shaped constellation Bootes, the herdsman, down toward the western horizon. In September the Summer Triangle of Vega (west), Deneb (east), and Altair (south) reaches its highest point in the south.
The autumnal equinox ushers in fall at 9:49 a.m. September 22. At that moment the sun will be directly above the equator and Earth will be lighted from pole to pole.