December 2018 – Where to look for the planets

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Use the finder charts on this page to guide you to where to look for the planets in December 2018.

A few pointers:

  • All planets visible to the unaided eye look like stars. Planets visible to the unaided eye include Mercury, Venus, Earth (look down!), Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
  • In a telescope, Uranus and Neptune are visible as tiny discs. The dwarf planet Pluto remains looking like a star in even the largest amateur telescope.
  • Stars are shown to magnitude 5 on the charts unless otherwise noted. This is a compromise between what you would see from the light polluted skies of a city (where you will see significantly less stars) and dark country skies (where you will see significantly more stars).
  • Unless otherwise noted, the finder charts are prepared for the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. The charts will be useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia (including Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane).

4 December 2018 – Moon, Venus and Spica in the pre-dawn morning sky

Moon, Venus and Spica (the brightest star in the ancient Greek constellation Virgo The Virgin) finder chart. Look above the Eastern horizon. Chart prepared for 3 am AEST / 4 am AEDT on Tuesday 4 December 2018 for the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

7 December 2018 – Mars and Neptune close in the early evening sky

Mars and Neptune will be very close on Friday 7 December 2018. Mars will be easily visible to the unaided eye. Neptune is only visible in large binoculars or a small telescope. Stars are shown to magnitude 8 to assist in ‘star hopping’ from Mars to Neptune.  Chart prepared for 9 pm AEST / 10 pm AEDT on Tuesday 4 December 2018 for the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

15 December 2018 – Moon, Mars and Neptune close in the early evening sky

Moon, Mars and Neptune finder chart. Mars will be easily visible to the unaided eye. Neptune is only visible in large binoculars or a small telescope.  Stars are shown to magnitude 8 to assist in ‘star hopping’ from Mars to Neptune. Chart prepared for 8 pm AEST / 9 pm AEDT on Saturday 15 December 2018 for the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

18 December 2018 – Moon and Uranus close in the early evening sky

Moon and Uranus finder chart. Uranus is best located using binoculars or a small telescope.  Stars are shown to magnitude 8 to assist in ‘star hopping’ from the Moon to Uranus. Chart prepared for 8 pm AEST / 9 pm AEDT on Tuesday 18 December 2018 for the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

22 December 2018 – Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Antares in the dawn sky

Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Antares (the brightest star in the ancient Greek constellation Scorpius The Scorpion) finder chart. Chart prepared for 3.45 am AEST / 4.45 am AEDT on Saturday 22 December 2018 for the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

31 December 2018 – Moon, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Antares in the dawn sky

Moon, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Antares (the brightest star in the ancient Greek constellation Scorpius The Scorpion) finder chart. Chart prepared for 3.45 am AEST / 4.45 am AEDT on Monday 31 December 2018 for the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

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