Society News and Night Sky Notes – August 2001

Society News Headlines

  • August 2nd: alpha Capricornids meteor shower max.
  • August 5th: Mercury at superior conjunction.
  • August 5th: Planned launch of STS-105, Space Shuttle Endeavour (link removed as URL is invalid). ISS mission 7A.1.Launch date under review
  • August 6th: iota Aquarids meteor shower max.
  • August 6th: Naked eye star mu Geminorum lies directly between Jupiter and Venus at 05:51 BST.
  • August 7th: delta Aquarids meteor shower max.
  • August 8th: Venus 1° South of Jupiter.
  • August 8th: Comet Encke closest approach to Earth (2.540AU).
  • August 12th: Minor planet Astraea at opposition (mag 10.9).
  • August 12th: Perseids meteor shower max.
  • August 12th: Pluto can be seen with large telescopes until Aug 25th. (Moon out of the way).
  • August 13th: 405th anniversary (1596) of the discovery of Mira Omicron Ceti by David Fabricius.
  • August 14th: Moon is 0.2° South of Saturn.
  • August 15th: Uranus at opposition in Capricornus.
  • August 15th: Lunar occultation of Jupiter.(NOT seen from Liverpool).
  • August 15th: Moon 0.4° North of Jupiter.
  • August 16th: Moon 2° North of Venus.
  • August 19th: John Flamsteed’s 355th Birthday (1646).
  • August 20th: Asteroid 1566 Icarus closest approach earth (0.753 AU).
  • August 20th: Moon 3° North of Mercury.
  • August 22nd: Liverpool Astronomical Society members visit to Vlasim AS, CZECH Republic, begins to-day.
  • August 25th: 20th anniversary (1981) of the Voyager2 flyby of Saturn.
  • August 27th: Moon 5° North of Mars.
  • August 28th: alpha Aurigids meteor shower, second max.
  • August 31st: Ulysses solar probe begins 4th Sun flyby.


Will it be cloudy to-night?, ask the The U.K. Goverment Met Office Weather service. To make your own star chart fo your location at any time, Click Here.

The Sun and Moon

All times are in BRITISH SUMMER TIME (BST) For Observer in Liverpool, Merseyside, England, U.K.

Latitude 53 degs 24 mins North.
Longitude +3.0 degs West.

              Jul 30th     4th         9th        14th       19th        24th       29th         
SUNRISE       05:24        05:32       05:43      05:49      06:00       06:07      06:16    
SUNSET        21:12        20:03       20:53      20:43      20:30       20:21      20:09
on 4th
at 06h:57m
on 12th
at 08h:54m
on 19th
at 03h:56m
on 25th
at 20h:56m



Mercury is at superior conjunction on the 15th.


Venus continues its swift rise in the morning sky rising over three hours before the Sun. On the 6th Jupiter and Venus are 1° apart with venus being the brighter of the pairing. Look between the two planets using binoculars and you will find the naked-eye star mu Geminorum nesting in between. Jupiter and, further to the south, Saturn start to drift away from Venus as the latter halts its rising altitude. At 15hrs on the 16th Venus is 1.5° south of the Moon.


Mars is still available low down in the constellation of Ophiuchus at 21h mid-month. You will be able to spot a definite drop in brightness compared with last month as Mars moves away from us. Its apparent diameter is diminishing as well.

International Marswatch 2001.


  • 1 Ceres is at mag 7.8 in Sagittarius.
  • 2 Pallasis at mag 9.8 in Hercules.
  • 14 Irene is at mag 10.5 in Ophiuchus.
  • Astraea at opposition at mag 10.9.
  • How to find them from Liverpool

For More information on Asteroids Click Here.


Jupiter can be found due east in the early morning sky, rising at midnight mid-month in the constellation of Gemini. As this is quite a rich area of the sky there are conjunctions with some Gemini’s stars, the brightest and closest of which will be on the 7th when Jupiter passes 34 arcminutes north of mu Geminorum. On the 15th the Moon scoots a close 34 arcminutes south of Jupiter at 21hrs.

Launched in October 1989, the Galileo Jupiter Probe entered orbit around the great planet on December 7th 1995. The Project Galileo Homepage will give you up-to-date information and the very latest images returned.


Further to the west in Taurus lies fainter Saturn. On the 14th at 02h Saturn is 1° north of the Moon. Both Jupiter’s and Saturn’s apparent diameters are increasing slowly, Jupiter’s bring 34 arcseconds and Saturn’s nearly 18 arcseconds.


Uranus reaches opposition on the 15th and is therefore at its best for picking up with binoculars or low power telescope. So this month make an effort to locate it amongst the wide constellation of Capricornus.

Neptune was at opposition last month and is lying at the opposite side of Capricrnus to Uranus. It is also well placed for a little bit of astronomical sleuthing but bear in mind that it is much fainter than Uranus and will not show a disk in most medium aperture telescopes. Don’t expect to see a disk though as Uranus appears only 4″ across and Neptune a paltry 2″ across. Compare these sizes with Jupiter and you will see the difficulty in observing these two planets, both of which can be found in Capricornus.

Uranus Positions for the 1st August:

                          R.A.                   DEC                         TRANSIT TIME           MAG
                      21h:44m:04s           -14°:25':24"                      01:15m               5.7

Neptune Positions for the 1st August:

                          R.A.                   DEC                        TRANSIT TIME           MAG
                      20h:38m:51s           -18°:17':55"                     00h:10m               7.9


Pluto can be found in the constellation Ophiuchus, below and to the left the 4th Mag stars Zeta (mag 4) and 20 Ophiuchi (mag 4.7). The best time to look for the planet is around New Moon. The dates below will be a guide for planning observations.


Positions for August are when pluto's elongation angle is greater than 90°.

DATE                      R.A.                   DEC                   TRANSIT TIME
Aug 9th                16h:49m:55s            -11°:57':22"                 20h:50m
Aug 19th               16h:49m:41s            -12°:01':09"                 20h:11m
Aug 29th               16h:49m:39s            -12°:05':28"                 19h:29m

Pluto is best seen between August 12th to August 25th


  • 2nd August Alpha Capricornids 5 per hour Unfavourable. 12 day old Moon.
  • 6th August Iota Aquarids 10 per hour Unfavourable. 16 day old Moon.
  • 7th August Delta Aquarids 10 per hour Unfavourable. 17 day old Moon.
  • 12/13th August Perseids 80 per hour Quite Favourable. 21 day old Moon. (Last Quarter)
  • 28th August Alpha Aurigids 10 per hour Unfavourable. 10 day old Moon. (FIREBALLS!)


  • Comet C/2000 0F8 (Spacewatch) at Perihelion on August 5th at (2.168AU)
  • Comet Encke at closest approach to Earth on August 8th at (2.540AU).

Plus these pages will give daily and weekly reports of this and other Comets progress.