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 2021, 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  -2.1  Cnc   7.33am  5.20pm   -0.1  Vir   7.37am  7.56pm
Venus -3.9  Leo   9.01am  8.13pm   -4.0  Vir   8.17am  9.18pm
Mars   1.8  Leo   8.34am  7.18pm    1.8  Leo   7.20am  6.57pm
Jup   -2.8  Aqr   6.57pm  8.37am   -2.9  Cap   4.39pm  6.30am
Sat    0.2  Cap   5.18pm  7.43am    0.3  Cap   3.09pm  5.39am
Uran   5.8  Ari   1.20am 11.34am    5.7  Ari  11.23pm  9.37am
Nep    7.8  Aqr   8.56pm  9.32am    7.8  Aqr   6.55pm  7.33am
Pluto 14.5  Sgr   3.58pm  7.00am   14.5  Sgr   1.57pm  5.00am

              AUGUST 1  NZST             AUGUST 31  NZST
TWILIGHTS    morning     evening       morning      evening
Civil:    start 6.59am, end 5.55pm   start 6.20am, end  6.23pm
Nautical: start 6.26am, end 6.29pm   start 5.48am, end  6.55pm
Astro:    start 5.54am, end 7.01pm   start 5.16am, end  7.27pm

  Last quarter:  August  1 at  1.16am (July 31, 13:16 UT)
  New Moon:      August  9 at  1.50am (Aug 8, 13:50 UT)
  First quarter: August 16 at  3.20am (Aug 15,15:20 UT)
  Full Moon:     August 23 at 12.02am (Aug 22,12:02 UT)
  Last quarter   August 30 at  7.13pm (07:13 UT)


MERCURY is at superior conjunction at the beginning of August. It will then be 1.6° north of the Sun and so not observable early in the month. Following conjunction Mercury becomes an evening object setting after the Sun.

On the 19th Mercury passes Mars. At 6.45 pm that evening, with the Sun 9° below the horizon, Mercury at magnitude -0.5 will be 6° above the horizon, only 9 arc-minutes above Mars. Fifteen minutes later, at the end of evening twilight, the planets will be 3.5 up and about 15° north of due west.

By the end of August Mercury sets 2 hours after the Sun, giving a brief opportunity to see the planet early evening. At 6.50 pm, the end of nautical twilight, the planet will be 11° up.

VENUS moves further up into the evening sky during August, setting over 3 three hours after the Sun by the 31st, making it a brilliant early evening object to the north of west.

The evening of August 11 will see the crescent moon some 6° below Venus.

MARS is also an evening object but falls further behind Venus and gets closer to the Sun during August. By the end of the month it sets only 1 hour after the Sun making it a difficult object for observing.

The moon, as a very thin crescent only 3% lit, will be 6° to the right of Mars early evening on the 10th.

JUPITER is at opposition on the 22nd of August and in the sky all night. I will be at its brightest in the second half of the month. The planet, moving to the west in a retrograde sense, crosses from Aquarius to Capricornus on the 19th.

Early evening on August 22, two days after opposition, the full moon will be 3.5° to the right of Jupiter. They gradually get further apart during the rest of the night.

SATURN is at opposition at the beginning of August, on the 2nd. So, like Jupiter, is visible most of the night.

The moon passes Saturn on the 21st. They are closest at the middle of the day so will be separating by the time they rise for New Zealand.

URANUS and NEPTUNE become visible for more of the night during August. While Uranus remains a morning object rising near midnight, Neptune rises early evening especially by the end of the month.

The moon passes Uranus twice during August, at the beginning of the month and near its end. Neptune is visited only once. None of the approaches are particularly close as seen from NZ.

PLUTO, in Sagittarius, is well south of the celestial equator so in the sky for some 15 hours, including most of the night.


                  AUGUST 1 NZST          AUGUST 31 NZST  
                Mag  Cons  transit    Mag  Cons  transit
 (1) Ceres      8.8   Tau   7.37am    8.8   Tau   6.09am
 (2) Pallas     9.5   Psc   3.13am    8.8   Psc  12.59am
 (4) Vesta      7.9   Vir   4.11pm    8.0   Vir   3.04pm
 (6) Hebe       8.6   Sgr  11.06pm    9.1   Sgr   8.54pm
(12) Victoria   8.8   Aql  12.01am    9.4   Aql   9.48pm
(89) Julia      9.4   Aqr   2.06am    9.0   Aqr  11.36pm

CERES, in Taurus starts August some 10° above the Pleiades. It rises at 2.22 am. By the end of August it will be in the Hyades closing in on Aldebaran. The two are just over 2° on the 31st.

PALLAS rises at 9.30 pm on the 1st and 7.00 on the 31st. So by then is well placed for evening viewing.

VESTA is an early evening object. On the 1st it rises soon after 10 am and sets at 11 pm. By the 31st it sets at 9.20 pm. It will then be 5.5° to the right of Venus. The crescent moon will be 5° to the lower left of Vesta on the 12th. Later that night they will be only 1° apart - well after they set in NZ

HEBE, in Sagittarius, rises at 4.15 pm on the 1st and 1.43 pm on the 31st. On the latter date it sets 4.05 am so is well placed in the evening sky for viewing.

VICTORIA dims from magnitude 8.8 to 9.4 following its opposition in late July. On the 1st it rises at 5.50 pm soon after sunset and more than 2 hours earlier on the 31st. For much of the month it is about 12° from magnitude 0.9 star Altair.

JULIA has a diameter of 159 km. At opposition towards the end of August it is 1.1 AU from the Earth and 2.1 AU from the Sun. These are near its closest possible to the Sun and the Earth, resulting in a relatively bright magnitude 8.9. At opposition Julia rises close to the time of sunset and sets close to the time of sunrise. On the 21st the asteroid is one-third of a degree from SadelMelik, at magnitude 2.9 the brightest star in Aquarius

Brian Loader



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