August 2014 Night Photography Events Calendar

Each month I post a monthly night photography events calendar on the first day of the month. Events listed on this calendar are suitable for wide-field and moderate-telephoto astrophotography, as well as for general night photography. Unless otherwise stated, all events occur in the United States at mid-latitudes. Most of the events also occur at other locations, although some of them may require correction for latitude and longitude. The position of the Moon relative to the planets and stars changes throughout the night. Generally, when a position is given, it is for the period about 45 minutes after sunset or 45 minutes before sunrise. Do not confuse the times of the Moon phases for the times of Moonrise and Moonset. Consult local charts for rise and set times.

August is among my favorite months for night photography. Although the nights are short, they offer great photo opportunities. The most popular meteor shower of the year, the Perseids, occurs this month and the Milky Way shines high and bright all night long. Toward the end of August, Orion begins rising  early in the morning, signaling its return to the winter skies. The zodiacal light occurs in the latter half of August on moonless mornings. And, of course, the nights are warm, making it more pleasant to stay out.

If you sign up for my free Night Photography News eNewsletter, you’ll receive each calendar two weeks early, on the 15th of the preceeding month. This will give you more time to plan your night shooting.

All month The Milky Way shines brightly all night long. After dusk twilight, look for it toward the South or South-Southwest, angling high and arching to the North. For much of the night and throughout the month, it stands nearly vertical, with the brightest portion of the band visible.
All month Mars and Saturn shine in the dusk twilight sky, looking Southwest. At the beginning of the month, Saturn lies well to the upper left of Mars, but by the end of the month it has migrated close to the upper right of it. Both shine at about magnitude 0.5.
All month Venus is the brilliant “morning star,” shining at about magnitude -3.8, making is easily the brightest object in the night sky after the Moon. It shines low in the dawn twilight sky to the East-Northeast.
Second half Jupiter joins Venus in the dawn twilight sky, looking East-Northeast. Up until the 18th, Jupiter lies below Venus, but beginning on the 19th, it shines above it. It shines at about magnitude -1.8.
Second half Orion, the night sky’s brightest and most prominent constellation, rises a couple hours before sunrise, looking East.
Last week Look for the zodiacal light in the east before sunrise from dark locations. See this blog post for more information.
3 First Quarter Moon at 8:50pm.
10 Full Moon at 2:10pm. This is the so-called “Super Moon,” when the Moon is closest to Earth and appears the largest of the year. Don’t forget, in addition to including the Full Moon as a complement to a landscape or urban scene, you can use the light from the Full (or nearly full) Moon to illuminate your scene.
12 – 13 The Perseid meteor shower peaks.  On average, you can expect to see about one meteor per minute, but the rate could be more or less. You’ll see more meteors after midnight, when the shower’s radiant (the point from where the meteors appear to emerge) rises high in the sky. However, any meteors that you see early in the night will be “Earth-grazers” that have longer trails. Unfortunately, this year the Moon will be only two days past full phase and its brightness will wash out all but the brightest meteors. Perseid meteors occur for several days before and a few days after the peak, though in lesser numbers. 
17 Third Quarter Moon at 8:26am.
18 Venus and Jupiter shine very close together in the dawn twilight sky, looking East-Northeast.
20 The Crescent Moon shines in the dawn sky, looking East. Venus and Jupiter shine to the lower left of the Moon.
21 The thin Crescent Moon shines in the dawn sky, looking East. Venus and Jupiter shine to the lower left of the Moon.
22 The thin Crescent Moon shines low in the dawn sky, looking East. Venus and Jupiter shine to the lower left of the Moon.
23 A very thin Crescent Moon shines very low on the dawn horizon, looking East. Venus shines very close on the lower left of the Moon and Jupiter is close on the upper left.
25 New Moon at 10:13am. Don’t forget, the best time to shoot the stars (as either pinpoints or star trails) is when there is no light pollution from the moon.
27 A very thin Crescent Moon shines very low on the horizon in dusk twilight sky, looking West. The Moon sets only 58 minutes after sunset and will be difficult to see.
28 A thin Crescent Moon shines low on the horizon in dusk twilight sky, looking West.
29 The Crescent Moon shines in dusk twilight sky, looking West.
30 The Crescent Moon shines in dusk twilight sky, looking West.
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