Sunrise Sunset

Fri., July 30 5:33 8:01

Sat., July 31 5:34 8:00

Sun., August 1 5:35 7:59

Mon., August 2 5:36 7:58

Tues., August 3 5:37 7:57

Wed., August 4 5:38 7:56

Thurs., August 5 5:39 7:55

Fri., August 6 5:40 7:53

Two planets in our western sky are only two degrees apart: The red planet Mars and the ringed planet Saturn are so close, they form a perfect pair. This close relationship will last only a couple of nights, as Mars begins to move eastward appearing to pass by and under Saturn. Tonight the two planets are bright and easy to spot.

The brightest planet in the western sky, Venus, is only slightly to the west of the other two. The three planets form an elongated triangle that will change nightly.

In a week, Mars, Saturn and Venus form a more perfect triangle.

The second brightest evening planet, Jupiter, rises in the eastern sky about two hours after sunset. Jupiter is a spectacle for those who are up late at night. The solar system’s largest planet resides in the zodiacal constellation Pisces.

The month of August is a favorite month for backyard astronomers, with comfortable warm nights and a perfect nightly view of the Milky Way. And of course the Perseid meteor shower is an August favorite. This year promises to be better than the last few years, as long as skies are clear. That is because the moon won’t be around to interfere. The best time for viewing is after midnight on the morning of Wednesday, August 11, and again on Thursday, August 12.

— M.A.L.