August 2023: what planets are visible in the night sky and how to spot them
August has a host of planets to see across the month
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Throughout the month of August, there are a range of stars and planets to look out for.
Some of the main highlights this month include the 31-day visibility of Venus, which will be visible as a thin crescent.
This month also notes two supermoons, also known as perigee full moons which are visible on the first and last night of August.
The 9th of August sees Jupiter in the early morning, as well as Hyades - the V-shaped cluster in Taurus - and Pleiades, the open star cluster.
A highlight in mid-August, around the 12-13 August anyone can see the Perseid meteor shower at its peak.
The last key event of this month falls on 27 August: where Saturn at opposition.
What planets will be visible and when?
Mercury is best viewed on 1 August, but it will be very low in the west. This month, it is a poorly located evening planet as Mercury is so close to the Sun, it can only be spotted when the sun is just below the horizon.
This planet will be best observed at the end of the month, after the 21st, when it will be low in the east before sunrise. It will take the form of a thin crescent in a telescope, and be located near the stars Procyon, Castor and Pollux.
Mars will be very difficult to see, but it may be possible to spot the red planet at the start of August, but hardly visible.
This gas giant will be the second brightest object in the morning sky, except for the moon. At the beginning of August, it will be in the east at around midnight, but by the end, it will rise at around 10 pm. On 8 August, Jupiter will pass the Moon and nearby will be the Pleiades cluster.
Saturn is visible near the moon on the evenings of 3 and 4 August. Its opposition will be on 27 August when the rings will brighten. The ringed planet will be visible by the moon again by 30 August.
Uranus will be visible just before sunrise from the 2 August and can be caught throughout the month. However, visibility will be low so binoculars may be required.
Neptune will be visible just past 10pm from 1 August, and by the 31st, it will be visible before 8:30pm. It is hard to spot but is located near the Circlet of Pisces.
How to tell the difference between a planet and a star in the night sky?
The main way to tell the difference between a planet and a star is if it twinkles.
Planets keep their constant brightness in their appearance in the sky.
Through a telescope, planets may wiggle along the edges but if it blinks, twinkles or shimmers it is most likely to be a star.