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12/12/2018 – Ephemeris – The bright planets and a comet this week

December 12, 2018

Ephemeris for Wednesday, December 12th. The Sun will rise at 8:10. It’ll be up for 8 hours and 51 minutes, setting at 5:02. The Moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 10:05 this evening.

Let’s look at the bright planets for tonight. In the evening sky we have Mars still visible, but Saturn is all but lost in the bright twilight, setting at 6:22 p.m. It will pass conjunction with the Sun on New Years day. Mars will be due south at 6:30 p.m., and it will set at 12:10 a.m. Mars is moving eastward, crossing the constellation of Aquarius until the 21st, when it enters Pisces. Comet Wirtanen is moving northward, to the right of the V of stars that’s the head of Taurus the bull, and should be an excellent binocular object. On the 15th and 16th it will pass to the left of the Pleiades or Seven Sisters. Venus, our brilliant morning star, will rise at 4:19 a.m. in the east-southeast. The elusive planet Mercury will be seen below and left of Venus after it rises at 6:20 a.m.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addenda

Planets and the Moon

Evening planets

Mars, and Saturn over a Lake Michigan horizon seen at 5:45 p.m. tonight December 12, 2018. Created using Stellarium.

Binocular Moon

The waxing crescent Moon as it should appear tonight in binoculars. Created using Stellarium.

Morning Planets

Morning planets Venus and Mercury. Jupiter is rising. December 13, 2018, 7:15 a.m.. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic Venus

Telescopic view of Venus tomorrow morning December 13, 2018. Created using Stellarium.

Planets and the Moon on a single night

Planets, two comets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on December 12, 2018. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 13th. Click on the image to enlarge. Comet Wirtanen is very close to opposition and to the south, so it rises after sunset and sets before sunrise. Created using my LookingUp program.

Two comets

Comet C/2018 V1

Comet C/2018 V1 (Machholz-Fijikawa-Iwamoto) in twilight starting tonight December 12, 2018. The comet won’t climb that dramatically at 6 p.m. on the rest of the nights because the stars in the field will set 4 minutes earlier each successive evening. The latest magnitude estimate of the comet on December 15 is 7.3, two magnitudes brighter than shown here. It is just about impossible to spot in twilight. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Comet 46P/Wirtanen

Comet 46P/Wirtanen positions for the next week. Positions are marked with month-date and magnitude. The latest magnitude prediction for December 15th is 3.3, 5.5 magnitudes brighter than shown here. Star field position is for 9 p.m. on the 12th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

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