THE SOLAR SYSTEM IN DECEMBER 2019

 

Dates and times shown are NZDT (UT + 13 hours). Rise and Set times are for Wellington. They will vary by a few minutes elsewhere in NZ. Data is adapted from that shown by GUIDE 9.

The Southern Summer Solstice is on 2019 December 22 at 5.20 pm.

An annular eclipse of the Sun on the 26th is not visible from NZ. More details are on the RASNZ web site: rasnz.org.nz/in-the-sky/eclipses-2019

THE SUN and PLANETS in December 2019, Rise & Set  Mag. & Cons.
            December 1 NZDT           December 31  NZDT  
      Mag  Cons    Rise    Set     Mag  Cons    Rise    Set
SUN  -26.7  Oph   5.40am  8.39pm  -26.7  Sgr   5.47am  8.59pm
Merc  -0.6  Lib   4.48am  6.54pm   -0.9  Sgr   5.17am  8.42pm
Venus -3.9  Sgr   7.27am 10.52pm   -4.0  Cap   8.34am 11.03pm
Mars   1.7  Lib   4.09am  5.58pm    1.6  Lib   3.07am  5.43pm
Jup   -1.8  Sgr   7.06am 10.14pm   -1.8  Sgr   5.38am  8.46pm
Sat    0.6  Sgr   8.31am 11.28pm    0.5  Sgr   6.49am  9.42pm
Uran   5.7  Ari   5.25pm  4.07am    5.7  Ari   3.23pm  2.07am
Nep    7.9  Aqr   1.24pm  2.18am    7.9  Aqr  11.27am 12.21am
Pluto 14.5  Sgr   8.45am 11.44am   14.6  Sgr   6.52am  9.50pm

            December 1  NZDT          December 31  NZDT
Twilights    morning     evening        morning     evening
Civil:    start 5.10am, end  9.10pm   start 5.16am, end  9.31pm
Nautical: start 4.28am, end  9.51pm   start 4.33am, end 10.14pm
Astro:    start 3.40am, end 10.40pm   start 3.42am, end 11.05pm

   December PHASES OF THE MOON, times NZDT & UT
  First quarter: Dec  4 at  7.58pm (06:58 UT)
  Full Moon:     Dec 12 at  6.12pm (05:12 UT)
  Last quarter   Dec 19 at  5.57pm (04:57 UT)
  New Moon:      Dec 26 at  6.13pm (05:13 UT)

 

PLANETS in DECEMBER 2019

MERCURY is a morning object but virtually unobservable all month. It rises about 50 minutes before the Sun on the 1st and only 30 minutes earlier on the 31st.

VENUS sets a little over two hours after the Sun in December, so will be readily visible shortly after sunset, fairly low and a little to the south of west.

MARS is a morning object. By the 31st it rises more than 2.5 hours before the Sun. That morning Mars will be about 13.5° to the left of, and slightly higher than, Antares. Earlier in the month, on the 23rd the crescent moon will be about 7.5° to the left of the planet.

JUPITER is at conjunction with the Sun on the 28th. On the 1st Jupiter sets about 90 minutes after the Sun, so will be briefly visible low to the south of west. Within a few days the planet will be too close to the Sun to observe.

SATURN is easily visible in the evening sky early in December when it sets nearly 3 hours after the Sun. This interval drops to less than 45 minutes by the 31st making Saturn a difficult object in evening twilight. Saturn will then be a little over 1° from PLUTO.

URANUS is an evening object setting well after midnight. The gibbous moon is 4° above the planet at about 11pm on the 8th.

NEPTUNE is also an evening object moving very slowly in Aquarius. It sets just after midnight on the 31st.

 

POSSIBLE BINOCULAR ASTEROIDS in DECEMBER

                 December 1 NZDT      December 31 NZDT  
                Mag  Cons  transit    Mag  Cons  transit
(1)  Ceres      9.2   Sgr   3.08pm    9.0   Sgr   2.03pm
(4)  Vesta      6.8   Cet  11.41pm    7.5   Cet   9.30pm

 

CERES will be very low in the evening sky by the time it is dark enough to observe on the 1st. Only a little later in December it sets during evening twilight.

VESTA also an evening object is well placed for viewing all month. It is 4.5° to the upper right of the 91% lit moon on the 9th.

 

Brian Loader

 

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