Aug 5th: What’s Up Tonight! August Southern Skies Edition

By on August 5, 2014 in

Podcaster: Alice Enevoldsen aka Alice’s AstroInfo

Alices-Astro-InfoTitle: What’s Up Tonight, Southern Skies Edition

Organization: Alice’s AstroInfo

Link :
Heavens-Above Starcharts for anywhere, anytime, not installation required
Stellarium Free planetarium-style program for your computer or tablet
7Timer – Clear sky charts (will it be clear enough for stargazing?). Input your location, then click on “ASTRO” in the pop-up.

Description: Presented as a counterpart to Awesome Astronomy’s Northern Hemisphere monthly forecast, Alice talks about what’s visible from the Southern Hemisphere. Focused at about 33°S, this forecast should work for anywhere between 25°S and 50°S

Bio: Alice Enevoldsen currently volunteers as one of NASA’s Solar System Ambassadors. She has been working in planetariums since 1996, has a B.A. in Astronomy-Geology from Whitman College, and a Masters in Teaching from Seattle University. Her fascination with the stars led her to try her hand at astronomy research in Boston and Walla Walla, where she realized that her calling in life was actually to work in outreach and be a translator for scientists. Now she works hard to share her love of the stars and excitement about astronomy with as many people as possible.

Today’s sponsor: This episode of “365 Days of Astronomy” is sponsored by — no one. We still need sponsors for many days in 2014, so please consider sponsoring a day or two. Just click on the “Donate” button on the lower left side of this webpage, or contact us at


Hello, I’m Alice Enevoldsen, coming to you not-so-live from Alice’s AstroInfo with a ‘cast about what’s up in the August 2014 skies … over the Southern Hemisphere.

How are you today? … Good, good!

I’m here as a foil for Ralph and Paul with Awesome Astronomy and their monthly 365 Days of Astronomy podcast about what’s up in the skies over the Northern Hemisphere. I’ll be basing this podcast around 33-35°S, so it should be good anywhere from about 25°S to 45° or 50°S. This includes major cities in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, as well as South America that is south of Paraguay. Those of you living nearer the equator will have to combine both podcasts to figure out what’s most visible in your sky.

Let’s get started, with a section I call “Hey, what’s that?”

Last time I said you’d notice a pair of stars just after sunset, one of which was Mars (a planet not a star) and the other, Spica. Tonight as you look up, Mars will have moved off to the East a bit and is now about halfway between Saturn and Spica. Towards the end of the month Mars will be even closer to Saturn, making a striking pairing of planets.

A bit closer to the Northern horizon than all that is the bright star Arcturus, which brings me to some other Notable Sky Objects ad Events in the August sky.

Our most talked-about events this month will be the Supermoon and the Perseid Meteor Shower.

The Supermoon happens first, at 18:09 UTC on August 10. For many of you that will be the evening and night between August 10th and 11th, check your local timezone conversion from UTC to be certain.

“Supermoon” is a word that is fairly new in the last 30 years, and has been catching a lot of media attention more recently over the last 5 years or so. The concept is straightforward: we know the Moon’s orbit isn’t a perfect circle, so that means sometimes it is closer to us, and sometimes farther away. When it is at its closest and ALSO a full moon or a new moon, it is now referred to as a Supermoon. The difference in angular size on the sky is practically immeasurable without carefully calibrated instrumentation, but it can have a notable effect on tides, since gravity falls off as r-squared, so a little bit closer means a little bit bigger difference in gravity …

… oh, I got jargon-y there. Um … If you double the distance between two objects, the gravitational force between them isn’t half, it’s one quarter. That’s what “gravity falls off as r-squared” means. So, if the Moon is a tiny bit closer to us, we feel a little more MORE gravity than you might otherwise think without the math. Feel free to ask me to elaborate in writing sometime, or call up your favorite physicist.

Supermoons are also not all that rare: we have five Supermoons this year, and most years have several. I haven’t fully calculated out the probability, but Bruce McClure from EarthSky says we have about four to six a year, which is the same number of eclipses we have in a year (give or take). So that sounds about right to me.

The August 10th Supermoon is the closest of 2014, and unfortunately, the Perseid Meteor Shower peaks the very next night. Given that bright Moon on Perseid night, you might want to start watching now for Perseids rather than waiting until the peak. There’ve been a few spectacular bollides and fireballs already. These early, bright meteors are often called Earthgrazers because instead of impacting our atmosphere more head on and burning up quickly, they glance through the atmosphere, heating up and glowing for a much longer time as they travel across the sky.

The Perseid Meteor Shower has meteors visible in all parts of the sky, though the radiant is in the constellation Perseus, so they’ll all seem to be coming from Perseus. In the Southern Hemisphere, Perseus rises early in the morning, just grazing the Northern horizon. So, find yourself a nice open sky where you can see the whole sky, but especially that is clear towards the North, lie down on the ground an settle in to watch for shooting stars after midnight. The Earthgrazers may additionally be more visible in the late evening and early morning.

As always, there are plenty of other constellations and objects in the night sky, and at least one other Planet deserve a little of your attention.

Venus will be quite noticeable as the Morning Star just before sunrise

If you’re ready to take out your telescope or do some photography of the night sky, the list is the same as last month’s podcast because that was only a couple weeks ago and the sky hasn’t changed that much: Omega Centauri, Eta Carina, the Tarantula Nebula, and the Trifid Nebula are some great targets.

Lastly, here’s an overview of the upcoming Moon Phases:

The first quarter moon, August 4 and September 2, is ideal for late afternoon and early evening observation.

The full moon (Supermoon!) on August 10 or 11 (depending on your timezone) rises around sunset, and sets around sunrise.

The last quarter moon is August 17. For the week around the last quarter moon it is visible in the early morning sky.

The day of the new moon, August 25 or 26 (again, the time zone thing), you won’t see the Moon at all, but a few days before or after you might see a tiny sliver of a crescent Moon as the Sun rises or sets.

Well! Thanks for tuning in, I hope I gave you some things to keep your eyes peeled for. I’ll add some of my favorite planning links to the end of the transcript for you as usual. If you have suggestions for additions for the “What’s up tonight, Southern Skies Edition,” please leave them in the comments!

Once again, I’m Alice from Alice’s AstroInfo. You can find me online as AlicesAstroInfo on Twitter, Facebook, and

Keep your eyes high! Bye! See you later!


End of podcast:

365 Days of Astronomy
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About Alice Enevoldsen

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