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Perseids peak, and more top stargazing events in August

Multiple meteor showers and planets on parade await stargazers looking up this month.

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This colorful view of Mercury was produced using images from NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft, which orbited the planet from 2011 to 2015. As seen form Earth, Mercury will be at its best for the year on August 9.

The gas giant planets Jupiter and Saturn will dominate the August nights, as both Mars and Venus will be largely lost in the glare of the sun. Keen-eyed observers will also be able to hunt down the innermost planet, Mercury, as it makes its best morning appearance of the year. And despite interference from the moon, sky-watchers should be on the lookout for bright Perseid fireballs.

So mark your August calendar, and gaze skyward on the next clear night.

Noctilucent clouds—August 1-7

In the Northern Hemisphere, the first week of August will present your last opportunity of the year to enjoy some eye-catching displays of noctilucent clouds.

These wispy “night shining” clouds appear at the edge of space, as ice crystals form around dust particles falling into Earth’s atmosphere. Because of their extreme altitude, the clouds remain illuminated even after the sun has set from the viewpoint of people on the surface, creating glowing streamers high in the sky in the evening twilight. But as days get shorter with the onset of fall, noctilucent clouds will fade from view.

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