Fingernail moon pops in on three dawn planets this week

The ever-thinning moon glides by three separate planets in the dawn sky – Jupiter, Mars and Mercury. Mars will be rather faint and may still require binoculars to see well. Jupiter and Mercury will be easy to spot. The map shows the sky facing east about an hour before sunrise. Stellarium

There’s some cool stuff going down in the dawn sky with the crescent moon and planets starting tomorrow and continuing through Monday.

The show begins tomorrow morning Aug. 2 with the moon midway between bright Jupiter and the Bull’s Eye Star Aldebaran in Taurus. On Saturday an even thinner crescent shines to the right of Jupiter. Come Sunday the sliver moon forms a diamond with Jupiter, faint Mars and brighter Mercury low in the northeastern sky. Great stuff for early risers!

For a fun challenge, you might still see the crescent on Monday morning Aug. 5 directly below Mercury 40 minutes before sunrise. The moon will be only one day before new moon phase and breathtakingly thin.

John Chumack of Ohio caught this very nice southern Delta Aquarid meteor late on July 29 using a 17mm lens, ISO 800 and 20-second exposure.

You’ll also notice winter’s taskmaster Orion coming up in the eastern sky and maybe even catch a few southern Delta Aquarids flying around. I saw two last night. ¬†One crossed the Great Square of Pegasus in the east at 11 p.m. and left a wonderful chalky trail. The other zipped through Corona Borealis the Northern Crown in the western sky. Expect meteors any time these August nights, even early Perseids. You’ll be able to tell those from the others if their trails point back to the northeastern sky near the W of Cassiopeia.

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About astrobob

My name is Bob King and I work at the Duluth News Tribune in Duluth, Minn. as a photographer and photo editor. I'm also an amateur astronomer and have been keen on the sky since age 11. My modest credentials include membership in the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) where I'm a regular contributor, International Meteorite Collectors Assn. and Arrowhead Astronomical Society. I also teach community education astronomy classes at our local planetarium.

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