Consider a planetarium program to help you plan your observations. There are many commercial products available, and a very good program (Cartes du Ciel) is available free at http://www.ap-i.net/skychart/en/start.
This week the Moon is waning toward New Moon phase, which occurs on Friday, August 14th. A couple photos taken last week appear below. The photo on the left shows the relatively large craters Aristoteles and Eudoxus at the top and Mare Serenitatis (“Sea of Serenity” – doesn’t that sound nice?) in the bottom center. The Caucasus Mountains are to the north of the divide (left bottom) and to the south of them are the Apennine Mountains. The right-hand photo is a bit south of the left photo. Notice the series of rilles (trenches formed by lava tubes, tectonic activity, or both). The Hyginus Rille is just below the dark area to the left of center (the crater Hyginus is right in the middle or the rille). It’s 130 miles long, 2 to 4 miles wide, and about 1200 feet deep!
Sunday (August 9):
Look for bright Vega high overhead just after dark. Vega is in the constellation Lyra (the Lyre), shines at apparent magnitude 0.03 (it is the “standard” for magnitude measurements), is about 25 light-years away, and is a white main sequence star. Yellow-orange Arcturus is in the west, about 37 light-years away.
Wednesday (August 12):
The Perseid meteor shower is tonight, and (luckily) there will be no Moon to interfere with your observing. Remember, the best viewing for meteor showers is typically after midnight, as the Earth “turns into” the swarm of debris.
Friday (August 14):
The New Moon occurs at 8:53 a.m. MDT.
Mercury (in Leo): Visible on the western horizon about 20 minutes after dusk. Bring binoculars for the best chance of spotting it!
Venus (in Leo): At inferior conjunction so invisible between us and the Sun.
Mars (in Gemini): Might be visible about 1/2 hour before sunrise. Good luck!
Jupiter (in Leo): Out of sight now, but you may spot it early in the week just below Mercury – good luck!
Saturn (in Libra): In the south-southwest as darkness falls. Look for it just above the “head” of Scorpius.
Uranus (in Pisces): Well up in the southern sky before dawn.
Neptune (in Aquarius): Well up in the southern sky before dawn.
IRIDIUM FLARES and INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION:
Sorry – these are too numerous to list here! If you’re serious, load the ISS DETECTOR app on your smart phone or tablet. Alternatively, refer to Chuck Percival’s column in the Sunday Pueblo Chieftain.