December 2016 – Where to look for the planets

A few pointers:

  • All planets visible to the unaided eye look like stars. Planets visible to the unaided eye include Mercury, Venus, Earth (look down!), Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
  • In a telescope, Uranus and Neptune are visible as tiny discs. The minor planet Pluto remains looking like a star in even the largest amateur telescope.
  • Stars are shown to magnitude 5 on the charts unless otherwise noted. This is a compromise between what you would see from the light polluted skies of a city (where you will see significantly less stars) and dark country skies (where you will see significantly more stars).
  • Unless otherwise noted, the finder charts are prepared for Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. The charts will be useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia.
  • Times are listed in Australian Eastern Standard Time and Australian Eastern Daylight Savings time when in force. As a guide, in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory in 2016, Daylight Savings Time ends on Sunday 3 April and begins on Sunday 2 October 2016.

23 December 2016 – Moon, Jupiter and Spica finder chart – Early morning sky

Moon, Jupiter and Spica (the brightest star in the ancient Greek constellation Virgo 'The Virgin') finder chart. Chart prepared for 3:30 am AEST / 4:30 am AEDT on Friday 23 December 2016 for Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Morning twilight has already started. Chart created using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

Moon, Jupiter and Spica (the brightest star in the ancient Greek constellation Virgo ‘The Virgin’) finder chart. Chart prepared for 3:30 am AEST / 4:30 am AEDT on Friday 23 December 2016 for Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Morning twilight has already started. Chart created using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

25 December 2016 – Venus, Moon, Neptune and Fomalhaut finder chart – Evening sky

Venus, Mars, Neptune and Fomalhaut (the brightest star in Piscis Austrinus 'The Southern Fish') finder chart. Chart prepared for 9 pm AEST / 10 pm AEDT on Sunday 25 December 2016 for Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Large binoculars or a telescope and a more detailed finder chart will be required to locate Neptune. Venus, Mars and Fomalhaut will be easily visible to the unaided eye. Chart created using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

Venus, Mars, Neptune and Fomalhaut (the brightest star in Piscis Austrinus ‘The Southern Fish’) finder chart. Chart prepared for 9 pm AEST / 10 pm AEDT on Sunday 25 December 2016 for Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Large binoculars or a telescope and a more detailed finder chart will be required to locate Neptune. Venus, Mars and Fomalhaut will be easily visible to the unaided eye. Chart created using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

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