The Perseid meteor shower is an annual August event but the month brings more than just shooting stars. Whenever the sky is clear this month there is plenty to see and much of it is visible with the naked eye and reasonable darkness.

Finding a dark spot can often be the biggest challenge. Beaches are a great spot to view the sky since at least half of it is exposed and you don’t need to worry about trees.

The Big Dipper is one of the most recognizable constellations in the night sky and you can find that quite easily to the northwest. If it’s not very dark, you might not be able to see the four stars that make up the bowl of the dipper, but you’ll be able to observe many of them. The Little Dipper is harder to spot and if it’s not dark, don’t bother.

Both Big and Little Dippers Can Be Found In The August Sky

Both Big and Little Dippers can be found in the August sky.

For those of you with a clear view of the eastern sky early in the morning, Orion the Hunter is there for the viewing this time of year. He’s not hard to spot with his bow and arrow. There are some good phone apps to help you as well. I use Skyview for Android on my phone.

The Belt Of Orion Can Easily Be Spotted

The belt of Orion can easily be spotted.

Another great constellation to check out is the summer triangle. This is made up of Deneb, Vega and Altair. Depending on what time you view the triangle will depend on what time it is as the Earth rotates and changes our perspective of the sky.

On the morning of Aug. 11, about 20 minutes prior to sunrise, look for Sirius in the east-southeastern sky. According to Sky and, this star’s emergence was seen as an important seasonal marker.

Sirius Becomes Visible During August

Sirius becomes visible during August.

Planets are also visible this month on any clear night. Look south at dusk for views of Mars and Saturn.

Several Planets Are Visible To The Naked Eye During August

Several planets are visible to the naked eye during August.

If you can’t stay up for the Perseid meteor showers there is still plenty of great sky activity around mid-month. Weather permitting, look for the moon above Saturn and Mars for several days.

Late in the month there will be a conjunction of Venus and Jupiter low in the southern sky. These two planets will be so close it will actually look like one. You’ll need to be sure you have a clear view of the western horizon as the sight will be very low and appear close to the ground. Trees and buildings would prevent you from seeing it.