THE SOLAR SYSTEM IN AUGUST 2020
Dates and times shown are NZST (UT + 12 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 9.1
THE SUN and PLANETS in August 2020, Rise & Set Mag. & Cons. August 1 NZST August 31 NZST Mag Cons Rise Set Mag Cons Rise Set SUN -26.7 Cnc 7.26am 5.28pm -26.7 Leo 6.45am 5.57pm Merc -0.9 Gem 6.35am 4.07pm -0.7 Leo 7.19am 6.58pm Venus -4.5 Tau 4.21am 2.09pm -4.3 Gem 4.27am 2.15pm Mars -1.1 Psc 11.00pm 10.43am -1.8 Psc 9.46pm 9.09am Jup -2.7 Sgr 3.36pm 6.35am -2.6 Sgr 1.26pm 4.28am Sat 0.1 Sgr 4.15pm 7.01am 0.3 Sgr 2.08pm 4.57am Uran 5.8 Ari 12.59am 11.22am 5.7 Ari 11.00pm 9.24am Nep 7.8 Aqr 8.44pm 9.26am 7.8 Aqr 6.42pm 7.26am Pluto 14.5 Sgr 3.50pm 6.50am 14.5 Sgr 1.49pm 4.50am August 1 NZST August 31 NZST Twilights morning evening morning evening Civil: start 6.59am, end 5.56pm start 6.20am, end 6.23pm Nautical: start 6.26am, end 6.29pm start 5.48am, end 6.55pm Astro: start 5.53am, end 7.01pm start 5.16am, end 7.27pm August PHASES OF THE MOON, times NZ & UT Full Moon: August 4 at 3.59am (Aug 3, 15:59 UT) Last quarter: August 12 at 4.45am (Aug 11, 16:45 UT) New Moon: August 19 at 2.42pm (02:42 UT) First quarter: August 26 at 5.58am (Aug 25, 17:58 UT)
PLANETS in AUGUST 2020
MERCURY is at superior conjunction with the Sun at about 3am on August 18. At conjunction the planet will pass some 1.8° north of the Sun. It will be 200 million km from the Earth, 51 million km beyond the Sun.
The planet will be too close to the Sun for observation during August although beginning to move up into the early evening sky by the end of the month.
VENUS will continue to be a brilliant morning object to the northeast easily visible from well before dawn. On the morning of the 16th the crescent moon will be about 6° below the planet.
MARS, in Pisces, rises late evening during August so will remain best placed for viewing in the morning sky. The planet brightens noticeably during the month. The moon will be at its closest to Mars for the month on the night of August 9/10. The two bodies will be just over 2° apart at midnight, soon after they rise. An hour before sunrise on the morning of August 10, their separation will have doubled.
JUPITER and SATURN are still retrograding during August. Consequently their separation, about 8°, increases slightly during the month.
The near full moon passes the two planets twice during the month. Early evening on the 2nd, the moon will be 5° to the lower right of Jupiter and just over 3° above Saturn. On the 29th, at about 9.30 pm, the moon will be equi-distant from each planet
PLUTO remains close to Jupiter and Saturn during August. Early in the month Pluto is slightly closer to Jupiter, by the end it is slightly closer to Saturn
URANUS rises late evening by the end of August. The planet is in Aries, being stationary on the 16th. It will then start moving in a retrograde sense, like Jupiter and Saturn.
NEPTUNE is well placed in the late evening sky, rising within an hour of sunset by the end of August.
POSSIBLE BINOCULAR ASTEROIDS in AUGUST August 1 NZST August 31 NZST Mag Cons transit Mag Cons transit (1) Ceres 8.0 Aqr .2.51am 7.7 Aqr 12.32am (4) Vesta 8.3 Gem 11.28am 8.4 Cnc 10.24am (8) Flora 9.9 Cet 5.52am 9.4 Cet 4.31am
CERES is visible most of the night. It is at its brightest on the 31st, which is only two days short of opposition.
VESTA rises in the dawn sky so is not easily observed during August.
FLORA brightens to become a possible binocular object by late August. On the 31st it rises about 11 pm, so is essentially a morning object.