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

December 12, 2018 Leave a comment

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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11/21/2018 – Ephemeris – The bright planets and two comets for this week

November 21, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, November 21st. The Sun will rise at 7:47. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 21 minutes, setting at 5:09. The Moon, 2 days before full, will set at 6:47 tomorrow morning.

Let’s look at the bright planets for tonight. Two of them are visible in the evening sky. Jupiter is 5 days from passing behind the Sun, and will officially be a morning planet next Monday. Saturn, the ringed planet, will start the evening low in the southwestern sky and will set at 7:35 p.m. Mars will be in the south as the skies darken tonight. Mars will be due south at 7:03 p.m., and it will set at 12:20 a.m. Mars is moving eastward, crossing the constellation of Aquarius this month. It’s currently about midway through Aquarius, moving eastward and northward, so its setting time won’t change much over this month. Venus, our brilliant morning star, will rise at 4:50 a.m. in the east southeast. The blue-white star Spica is to the right and a bit above it.

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

Addenda

Planets and the Moon

Click on images to enlarge

Evening planets
Mars, Saturn and the Moon seen at 6:30 p.m. tonight November 21, 2018. Created using Stellarium.
Binocular Moon
The Moon as it might appear in binoculars or a small telescope tonight at 6:30 p.m. November 21, 2018. Created using Stellarium.
Venus in the morning
Venus in the morning sky at 7 a.m. November 22, 2018. Note the bluish star Spica to the right of it. Created using Stellarium.
Telescopic Planets
Saturn, Mars and Venus with the same magnification at 6:30 p.m. tonight and 7 a.m. or Venus tomorrow the 22nd. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).
Planets and the Moon on a single night
Planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on November 21, 2018. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 22nd. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

Current relatively bright comets

Comet C/2018 V1 ( Machholz-Fujikawa-Iwamoto )
Comet C/2018 V1 ( Machholz-Fujikawa-Iwamoto ) positions for the next week. Positions are marked with month-date and magnitude. The comet is currently running about a magnitude brighter than predicted and may make magnitude 5.5 by early December. The star field position is for 7:15 a.m. on the 22nd. Remember we are in morning twilight here. Subtract 4 minutes per day after that. 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 comet comet appears to be running about 4 magnitudes brighter than the predictions and may make magnitude 3 by mid-December. Star field position is for 9 p.m. on the 21st. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

The new magnitude estimates are from Seiichi Yoshida’s website and his Weekly Information about Bright Comets:  http://www.aerith.net/comet/weekly/current.html


11/14/2018 – Ephemeris – The bright planets this week

November 13, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, November 14th. The Sun will rise at 7:38. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 37 minutes, setting at 5:15. The Moon, 1 day before first quarter, will set at 11:18 this evening.

Let’s look at the bright planets for tonight. Two of them are visible in the evening sky. Jupiter will set too soon after sunset to be seen. It will set only 29 minutes after the Sun. Saturn, the ringed planet, will start the evening low in the southwestern sky and will set at 7:59 p.m. Mars will be low in the south as the skies darken tonight. Mars will be due south at 7:15 p.m., and it will set at 12:24 a.m. Mars is moving eastward, crossing the constellation of Aquarius this month. It’s currently at the western edge of Aquarius, moving eastward and northward, so its setting time won’t change much over this month. Venus, our brilliant morning star, will rise at 5:15 a.m. in the east southeast. The blue-white star Spica is just above and right of it now.

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

Addenda

Evening planets
Mars, Saturn and the Moon seen at 7 p.m. tonight November 14, 2018. Created using Stellarium.
Binocular Moon
The Moon as it might appear in binoculars or a small telescope tonight at 7 p.m. November 14, 2018. Created using Stellarium.
Venus in the a.m.
Venus in the morning sky at 7 a.m. November 15, 2018. Note the bluish star Spica above and to the right of it. Created using Stellarium.
Planets and the Moon on a single night
Planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on November 14, 2018. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 15th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

Comet Notes

Two comets will be flirting with naked eye visibility later this month and next month.  Newly discovered C/2018 V1 Machholz-Fujikawa-Iwamoto.  It will be a morning object in mid-December and be its brightest at the end of this month or early December when it will be cruising through Ophiuchus. 

Comet C/2018 V1
The path of C/2018 V1 from November 15, 2018, to December 5, 2018. The labels are month, date, and expected magnitude. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Periodic comet 46P/Wirtanen is moving up from the south and is an evening object.  It will pass close to the Pleiades in mid-December and will appear near the bright star Capella around Christmas time.

The path of comet 46p/Wirtanen through December
The path of comet 46p/Wirtanen through December.  Labels are every 5 days with the comet’s name, month date and expected magnitude.  Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts). 

11/07/2018 – Ephemeris – Two Two evening planets and a morning planet visible now

November 7, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, November 7th. The Sun will rise at 7:28. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 54 minutes, setting at 5:23. The Moon is new today, and won’t be visible.

Let’s look at the bright planets for tonight. Two of them are visible in the evening sky. Jupiter will set too soon after sunset to be seen. It will set only 44 minutes after the Sun. Saturn, the ringed planet, will start the evening low in the southwestern sky and will set at 8:24 p.m. Mars will be low in the south as the skies darken tonight. and is now 77.8 million miles (125.2 million km) away. Mars will be due south at 7:26 p.m., and it will set at 12:28 a.m. Mars is moving eastward, crossing the constellation of Aquarius this month. It’s currently at the western edge of Aquarius. Venus, now the brilliant morning star, will rise at 5:57 in the east southeast. It will grace our morning skies through next spring.

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

Addendum

Mars and Saturn at 7 p.m. November 7, 2018. Click on image to enlarge.  Created using Stellarium.

Venus in the morning at 6:45 a.m.  Spica is going to be tough to spot above Venus.  Created using Stellarium.

A telescopic view of the planets .  Mars and Saturn in the evening and Venus in the morning.  All using the same magnification.  Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).  Venus had a bit of help using GIMP.  Planetarium programs don’t do well with extremely thin crescents.
Moon and planets on a single night
Planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on November 7, 2018. The night ends on the left with sunrise on November 8th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

10/31/2018 – Ephemeris – The bright planets tonight

October 31, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Halloween, Wednesday, October 31st. The Sun will rise at 8:19. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 13 minutes, setting at 6:32. The Moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 1:02 tomorrow morning.

Let’s look at the bright planets for tonight. Three of them are visible in the evening sky. Jupiter will be barely visible very low in the west-southwest after sunset. It will set at 7:30 p.m. Saturn, the ringed planet, will start the evening low in the south-southwestern sky and will set at 9:49 p.m. Mars will be low in the south-southeast as the skies darken tonight. and is now 73.2 million miles (117.9 million km) away. Mars will be due south at 8:39 p.m., and it will set at 1:33a.m. Mars is picking up speed moving eastward, crossing the constellation of Capricornus this month. It’s currently in eastern Capricornus. Venus, now a morning planet, will rise at 7:45 tomorrow morning, 34 minutes after the Sun.

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

Addendum

Evening planets
Evening planets at 8 p.m. October 31, 2018.  Click on image to enlarge.  Created using Stellarium.

Binocular Moon
The waning crescent Moon as it should appear tomorrow morning in binoculars. Created using Stellarium.
Saturn and Mars with the same magnification at 8 p.m. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).
Stars and planets from sunset to sunrise
Planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on October 31, 2018. The night ends on the left with sunrise on November 1st. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

 

Update

I know, the content above isn’t very spooky for Halloween.  However, NASA came to the rescue with their Halloween Special: Universe of Monsters.  Fitting with our theme today, it’s about planets… of the Exo variety.  Click here!

10/24/2018 – Ephemeris – Looking for the bright planets tonight

October 24, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, October 24th. The Sun will rise at 8:10. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 33 minutes, setting at 6:43. The Moon, at full today, will rise at 7:13 this evening.

Let’s look at the bright planets for tonight. Three of them are visible in the evening sky. Venus, though still officially an evening planet for two more days sets before the Sun because it is south of the Sun’s path. Jupiter will be very low in the west-southwest after sunset. It will set at 7:53 p.m. Saturn, the ringed planet, will start the evening low in the southwestern sky and will set at 10:14 p.m. Mars will be low in the south as the skies darken tonight. and is now 68.9 million miles (111.0 million km) away. Mars will be due south at 8:51 p.m., and it will set at 1:39 a.m. Mars is picking up speed moving eastward, crossing the constellation of Capricornus this month. It’s currently in eastern Capricornus.

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

Addendum

Evening Planets
Mars and Saturn in the evening with the full moon at 8 p.m. October 24, 2018. Click on image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.
Binocular Moon
The full Moon as it should appear tonight in binoculars. Created using Stellarium.
Telescopic Planets
Saturn and Mars with the same magnification at 8 p.m. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).
Planets and the Moon on a single night
Planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on October 24, 2018. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 25th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

10/17/2018 – Ephemeris – Where are the bright planets tonight?

October 17, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, October 17th. The Sun will rise at 8:00. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 53 minutes, setting at 6:54. The Moon, 1 day past first quarter, will set at 1:33 tomorrow morning.

Let’s look at the bright planets for tonight. Three of them are visible in the evening sky. Venus though still officially an evening planet sets before the Sun because it is south of the Sun’s path. Jupiter will be very low in the west-southwest as skies darken. It will set at 8:16 p.m. Saturn, the ringed planet, will start the evening low in the southwestern sky and will set at 10:39 p.m. Mars will be low in the south as the skies darken tonight. and is now 64.6 million miles (104.0 million km) away. Mars will be due south at 9:04 p.m., and it will set at 2:03 a.m. Tonight Mars will be east or left of the waxing gibbous Moon. Mars is picking up speed moving eastward, crossing the constellation of Capricornus this month.

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

Addendum

Evening Planets
The evening planets and the Moon at 7:45 p.m. October 17, 2018. Click on image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.
Binocular Moon
The waxing gibbous Moon as it should appear tonight in binoculars. Created using Stellarium.
Telescopic Planets
Saturn and Mars with the same magnification at 7:45 p.m. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).
Planets and the Moon on a single night
Planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on October 17, 2018. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 18th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.