THE SOLAR SYSTEM IN DECEMBER 2021

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 9.1.

An eclipse of the Sun on December 4 is not visible from Australasia.

THE SUN and PLANETS in DECEMBER 2021, Rise & Set  Mag. & Cons.
          DEC 1     NZDT              DEC 31     NZDT  
      Mag  Cons    Rise    Set     Mag  Cons    Rise    Set
SUN  -26.7  Oph   5.39am  8.39pm  -26.7  Sgr   5.47am  8.59pm
Merc  -1.3  Oph   5.40am  8.47pm   -0.7  Sgr   7.05am 10.11pm
Venus -4.6  Sgr   8.29am 11.52pm   -4.3  Sgr   7.09am  9.35pm
Mars   1.7  Lib   4.43am  7.07pm    1.5  Oph   3.54am  6.56pm
Jup   -2.3  Cap  11.36pm 13.27am   -2.1  Aqr  10.04am 11.41pm
Sat    0.7  Cap  10.12pm 12.40am    0.7  Cap   8.28am 10.51pm
Uran   5.7  Ari   6.06pm  4.27am    5.7  Ari   4.04pm  2.26am
Nep    7.9  Aqr   1.44pm  2.27am    7.9  Aqr  11.47pm 12.29am
Pluto 14.6  Sgr   8.57am 12.00mnt  14.6  Sgr   7.04am 10.05pm

                DEC 1  NZDT             DEC 31  NZDT
TWILIGHTS    morning     evening       morning      evening
Civil:    start 5.10am, end  9.10pm   start 5.17am, end  9.31pm
Nautical: start 4.28am, end  9.52pm   start 4.33am, end 10.14pm
Astro:    start 3.40am, end 10.41pm   start 3.42am, end 11.05pm

   DECEMBER PHASES OF THE MOON, times NZDT & UT
  New Moon:      Dec  4 at  8.43pm (07:43 UT)
  First quarter: Dec 11 at  2.35pm (01:35 UT)
  Full Moon:     Dec 19 at  5.35pm (04:35 UT)
  Last quarter   Dec 27 at  3.24pm (02:24 UT)

THE PLANETS in DECEMBER 2021

MERCURY is an evening object. It sets only 8 minutes after the sun on the 1st and just over an hour after on the 31st, so is virtually unobservable in December.

VENUS remains in the evening sky but gets considerably lower during December, especially after being stationary on the 18th.

MARS is in the morning sky rising, by the end of the month, nearly 2 hours before the Sun. Late in the month it is less than 5° from the similarly coloured star, Antares.

JUPITER and SATURN are both in the evening sky, setting before midnight by the end of the month. The moon is some 4.5° above Saturn on the 8th and 3.5° to the upper left of Jupiter the following evening.

Early in December Venus and Jupiter, with Saturn about midway between them should be a fine sight in the western evening sky.

URANUS, NEPTUNE and PLUTO are evening objects, the latter setting at midnight on the 1st, and subsequently before that time.

POSSIBLE BINOCULAR ASTEROIDS in DECEMBER

                  DEC 1 NZDT          DEC 31 NZDT  
                Mag  Cons  transit    Mag  Cons  transit
 (1) Ceres      7.1   Tau  12.50am    7.8   Tau  10.29pm
 (4) Vesta      7.6   Sco   1.08pm    7.8   Oph   0.14pm
 (7) Iris       8.6   Cnc   4.48am    7.9   Gem   2.33am
(44) Nysa       9.3   Tau   2.01am    9.5   Tau  11.34pm

CERES, an early evening object in Taurus, moves away from Aldebaran during December.

VESTA remains close to the Sun in December with an elongation of only 16° by the 31st. It will then rise only an hour before the Sun.

IRIS, in the morning sky, moves from Cancer to Gemini on the 27th. It is at opposition early in the New Year.

NYSA with a diameter just over 74km, reaches a magnitude of 9.1 when at opposition on the 11th.

 

Brian Loader

 

 

 

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