Dates and times shown are NZST (UT + 12 hours) unless otherwise stated. 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 SUN and PLANETS in AUGUST 2018, 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   3.1  Cnc   7.45am  6.42pm   -0.8  Leo   6.05am  4.29pm
Venus -4.3  Vir   9.23am  9.17pm   -4.6  Vir   8.16am  9.51pm
Mars  -2.8  Cap   4.21pm  7.53am   -2.1  Sgr   2.04pm  5.37am
Jup   -2.1  Lib  11.29am  1.28am   -1.9  Lib   9.39am 11.46pm
Sat    0.2  Sgr   2.25pm  5.26am    0.4  Sgr  12.23pm  3.25am
Uran   5.8  Ari  12.19am 11.04pm    5.7  Ari  10.20pm  9.05am
Nep    7.8  Aqr   8.23pm  9.17am    7.8  Aqr   6.21pm  7.17am
Pluto 14.4  Sgr   3.37pm  6.32am   14.4  Sgr   1.36pm  4.33am

              August  1  NZST            August 31  NZST
Twilights    morning     evening        morning     evening
Civil:    start 7.00am, end 5.55pm   start 6.20am, end 6.23pm
Nautical: start 6.26am, end 6.28pm   start 5.48am, end 6.55pm
Astro:    start 5.54am, end 7.01pm   start 5.16am, end 7.27pm
  Last quarter   August  5 at  6.18am (Aug 4, 18:18 UT)
  New moon:      August 11 at  9.58pm (09:58 UT) solar eclipse
  First quarter: August 18 at  7.49pm (07:49 UT)
  Full Moon:     August 26 at 11.56pm (11:56 UT)

PARTIAL SOLAR ECLIPSE August 11. This eclipse is visible at sunrise from northeast Canada. All stages are visible from Arctic regions including Greenland, Iceland, most of Scandanavia, northern Russia, much of Siberia, Mongolia and northern China.
See map at

PLANETS in August 2018

MERCURY is not likely to be visible in August. On the 1st it sets a little over an hour after the Sun and will be third magnitude. Over the next few nights Mercury sets steadily closer to sunset. By the 9th it is at inferior conjunction between the Earth and Sun. At conjunction the planet will pass some 5° degrees south of the Sun. It will in fact be 62 million km from the Sun and just over 90 million from the Earth.

After conjunction Mercury becomes a morning object rising before the Sun. The planet reaches its greatest elongation 18° west of the Sun only 18 days later but even then, will rise only 48 minutes before the Sun.

VENUS, in the northwest, continues to dominate the early evening sky. It is at its greatest elongation on the 18th when 46° east of the Sun. It will then set at 9.52pm, four hours after the Sun. The planet starts August on the border of Leo and Virgo. During the month it moves across Virgo ending a degree and a half from the first magnitude star Spica. With a magnitude -4.3, Venus will be more than a hundred times brighter.

On the evenings of the 18th and 19th of August, the crescent moon will be just under 9° from Venus.

MARS remains a brilliant orange object on the opposite side of the sky to Venus. Although it fades a little in brightness during the month, it is still at -2.1 on the 31st, slightly brighter than Jupiter. Mars moves to the west in Capricornus until crossing into Sagittarius on the 23rd. But it is stationary on the 28th and then starts moving back towards Capricornus which is re-enters on September 1.

On the night of the 23rd the moon will be at its closest to Mars for the month, just over 7° from the planet.

JUPITER remains in Libra during August passing the double star alpha Lib mid month. The star and planet are closest on the 17th, just over half a degree apart. On that evening the moon will join them, the moon being a little over 5° from Jupiter. By the end of the month, Jupiter will set just before midnight.

SATURN continues to move through Sagittarius during August. On the evening of the 21st, the 78% lit moon will be just over 2° below the planet, the two being closest between 9 and 10 pm.

URANUS rises just after midnight on the 1st and 10.20pm on the 31st. The planet is in Aries and is stationary on the 8th, NZ time. Consequently its position changes little during the month.

NEPTUNE is in Aquarius. By the end of the month it will rise just under an hour after sunset.

PLUTO rises mid to early afternoon during August so transits and is highest mid evening. The planet remains in Sagittarius.


BRIGHTEST ASTEROIDS in AUGUST, magnitude, constellation, time of transit
                AUGUST 1                AUGUST 31   
             Mag  Cons   transit    Mag  Cons   transit
(1)  Ceres   8.9   Leo    2.57pm    8.8   Vir    1.47pm
(3)  Juno    9.4   Cet    6.30am    8.9   Tau    5.17am
(4)  Vesta   6.4   Oph    9.07pm    7.0   Oph    7.23pm

CERES moves from Leo into Virgo on the 20th. By the 31st it sets two hours after the Sun so will be a low object to the west by the time the sky darkens. On the 1st it is about 13° below Venus, a distance that increases steadily during August.

JUNO is essentially a morning object although it rises just before midnight by the end of August. The moon is less than 3° from the asteroid on the morning of the 5th.

VESTA starts moving forward towards Saturn at the beginning of August. By the 31st they are about 7.5° apart. The moon is 5.5° from the asteroid on the 20th.


Brian Loader


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