Celestial Events in August 2023: 2 Supermoons in 1 Month, Prolific Perseids’ Peak, and More
In August 2023, you can see two Supermoons (including the biggest of the year), one of the best meteor showers of 2023, the planet Saturn at its brightest, and other great astronomical events. Here is the full list!
Astronomical events in August 2023
The event dates are given in Greenwich Mean Time. To determine the exact time of the event at your specific location, use the Sky Tonight app.
- August 1: Full Sturgeon Moon (Supermoon). 🌟
- August 3: Moon passes 2°28' from Saturn (mag 0.6).
- August 8: Moon passes 2°39' from Jupiter (mag -2.4); Last Quarter Moon.
- August 9: Moon passes 1°30' from Pleiades (mag 1.2).
- August 10: Mercury at greatest evening elongation.
- August 13: Perseids’ peak (ZHR = 100) 🌟; Moon passes 1°42' from Pollux (mag 1.2); Venus at inferior conjunction; Mercury (mag 0.4) passes 4°42' from Mars (mag 1.8).
- August 16: New Moon.
- August 17: κ-Cygnids’ peak (ZHR = 3).
- August 18: Moon passes 6°56' from Mercury (mag 0.7), 1°55' from Mars (mag 1.8).
- August 21: Moon passes 2°36' from Spica (mag 1.0).
- August 23: Mercury begins retrograde motion.
- August 24: First Quarter Moon.
- August 25: Moon passes 1°6' from Antares (mag 1.1); lunar occultation of Antares (visible from the USA, Mexico, and Canada).
- August 27: Saturn at opposition. 🌟
- August 29: Uranus begins retrograde motion.
- August 30: Moon passes 2°16' from Saturn (mag 0.4).
- August 31: Full Blue Moon (Supermoon). 🌟
More: Don’t miss upcoming events with the Sky Tonight app’s astronomical calendar. Learn how to use it at an advanced level with our guide.
Planets in August 2023
Mercury (mag 0.5) is visible in the evening, low above the horizon in Leo. Find Venus (mag -3.9) at the end of the month in the morning near the eastern horizon in Cancer. Mars (mag 1.8) can be seen near the western horizon in Leo in the evening, then moves to Virgo. Spot Jupiter (mag 2.3) in the morning in Aries. Saturn (mag 0.6) is visible all night in Aquarius. Look for Uranus (mag 5.7) in Aries in the morning. Neptune (mag 7.8) is visible all night in Pisces. Remember that viewing Uranus and Neptune requires binoculars or a telescope.
See Mercury (mag 0.5) low above the western horizon in Leo in the evening. Venus (mag -3.4) can be seen at the beginning of the month in the evening, also low above the western horizon in Leo. From the middle of the month, it becomes a morning object and resides low in the east in Cancer. Mars (mag 1.8) can be seen in the west in the evening, first in Leo and then in Virgo. Jupiter (mag -2.3) is visible at night and in the morning in Aries. Saturn (mag 0.6) is visible in Aquarius during the night and morning until the middle of the month. Towards the end of the month, it’s visible throughout the night. Uranus (mag 5.7) is visible in the morning in Aries. Observe Neptune (mag 7.8) at night and in the morning in Pisces. While all the other planets are visible with the naked eye, Uranus and Neptune require optics.
Constellations in August 2023
In August, observers in the Northern Hemisphere can see the constellations Cygnus, Lyra, and Aquila high in the sky. Three of their brightest stars form a well-known star pattern — the Summer Triangle. This asterism is visible all year round, but the best observing season is from July to September.
During the winter months in the Southern Hemisphere, stargazers can view two zodiac constellations (Scorpius and Sagittarius) and Ophiuchus (often called the 13th zodiac constellation).
Constellations change their position in the sky from season to season. Read our guides on seasonal constellations for the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere to know what constellations are visible each month.
Two Supermoons in August 2023
In August, observers will see two Full Moons in one month — both will be Supermoons. This means that they will be particularly close to the Earth and therefore look brighter and bigger than normal ones.
The first Full Moon (known as the Sturgeon Moon) will take place on August 1; although to the naked eye, it will look full the day before and after the date. On August 1, look for the Moon in the constellation Capricornus.
The second Full Moon of the month (known as the Blue Moon) will occur on August 31. Find it in the constellation Aquarius. The Blue Moon will approach the Earth closer than any other Full Moon this year and will become the biggest and brightest Full Moon in 2023. Don’t miss it!
Learn more about the meaning of the August Full Moons’ names and the lunar phases this month in our dedicated article. By the way, although the name “Blue Moon” has nothing to do with the actual color of the Moon, our natural satellite can really change its color in the sky. Take the quiz and explore the colors of the Moon!
Meteor showers in August 2023
This month, two notable meteor showers will be at their best: the Perseids on August 13 and the Kappa Cygnids on August 17. The Moon’s light won’t be a problem as our satellite will be near its new phase.
The Kappa Cygnid meteor shower might be weak, but you can still see some meteors. The real highlight of the month is the Perseid meteor shower. It’s famous for being bright and prolific, making it one of the most exciting meteor showers of the year. Let’s take a closer look at it.
Perseid meteor shower peak in August 2023
During the peak time, observers can see up to 100 Perseid meteors in one hour. According to the International Meteor Organization, the peak will be on August 13 from 07:00 a.m. to 02:00 p.m. GMT.
The Perseid meteor shower is not limited to its peak time. Even after the peak, the Perseids are known for occasional bursts of activity. In 2021, for instance, about a day and a half after the usual maximum, there was a significant surge in activity, with more than 200 meteors observed per hour.
As for 2023, on August 14, between 01:00 a.m. and 02:45 a.m. GMT, the Earth will pass through an old dust trail left by the comet Swift-Tuttle back in 68 BC, which can cause another meteor burst. Although there are no specific predictions about the activity level, this event is certainly worth observing, especially for passionate meteor enthusiasts. There is also a lesser outburst expected on August 13, around 03:00 a.m. GMT.
The best viewing locations for the Perseids are in mid-northern latitudes, where the radiant will be at its highest point around 10–11 p.m. local time. Unfortunately, the shower won’t be well visible from most of the Southern Hemisphere and latitudes north of about 60°N.
If you’re interested in observing this meteor shower, you can learn more about it from our dedicated article on how to observe the Perseids.
Saturn at opposition in August 2023
On August 27, we’ll have a fantastic opportunity to observe Saturn as it will be directly opposite the Sun in our sky. During this time, it will shine at its brightest (mag 0.4) for 2023, and its apparent size will be the largest.
Located in the constellation Aquarius, Saturn will appear as a yellowish dot to the naked eye (to distinguish Saturn from other planets and stars, use the Sky Tonight stargazing app). With the help of binoculars or telescopes, you’ll be able to see the planet’s iconic rings, which might appear unusually bright due to the Seeliger Effect. Around opposition, Saturn will rise in the east at sunset and will be visible all night. It will remain an excellent target for observations throughout August, September, and October 2023.
Comets in August 2023
To spot comets in August 2023, you’ll need a pair of binoculars with good magnification or a telescope, as the next comet visible to the naked eye is expected only in October 2024. Here is information on the comets that will be best visible this month.
Comet C/2021 T4 (Lemmon) reached its closest point to the Sun (perihelion) in July and is currently visible extremely low on the horizon from the Northern Hemisphere; for observers in the Southern Hemisphere, it rises higher. With a magnitude of about 9, the comet can be seen using a pair of binoculars from a dark location. You can find it in the sky using the Sky Tonight app. If you’re interested in observing this comet, August and September will be your last opportunities this year. After that, the comet will become completely unobservable.
Comet C/2023 E1 (ATLAS) was spotted in March and has brightened rapidly from magnitude 12 in May to magnitude 9 in July. In August, it remains well-observable from the Northern Hemisphere and becomes visible in the Southern Hemisphere as well, with a magnitude of about 10–11 throughout the month. However, it is expected to fade out quickly and be fainter than magnitude 18 by November. Enjoy observing this comet before it becomes too faint!
Comet C/2020 V2 (ZTF) is a great target for observers in the Southern Hemisphere. However, Northern Hemisphere observers should also be able to see it during their summer months as it travels through the Cetus and Eridanus constellations. In August 2023, it is expected to maintain a magnitude of about 9 to 10, gradually fading away.
Make sure to start keeping an eye on the comet C/2021 S3 (PANSTARRS). It’s anticipated to brighten up to magnitude 7 in early 2024! From August, observers in the Southern Hemisphere can spot it in the morning hours at a magnitude of 13, though it will be low above the horizon. For those in the Northern Hemisphere, it will become visible in November. By the end of 2023, the comet may have already brightened to magnitude 8.5.
How to navigate the night sky?
To locate celestial objects, use the Sky Tonight mobile app, an interactive sky map. It’s a free app with a vast, regularly updated database. The best part is that it works offline, so you can use it while camping or hiking. Simply open the app, point your device at the sky, and it will show you what’s up there. If you want to become a pro at exploring the night sky, there are also video tutorials to help you get started.
In August 2023, get ready for a spectacular sky show! Look out for the biggest Supermoon of the year, the dazzling Perseid meteor shower, Moon-planet conjunctions, and Saturn shining brightly. Use the Sky Tonight app for easy navigation.