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)


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.


                   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.

Brian Loader