January 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 dwarf 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.

1 January 2016 – Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Antares finder chart – Morning twilight sky

Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Antares (the brightest star in the ancient Greek constellation Scorpius) finder chart. Chart prepared for 3:45 am AEST / 4:45 am AEDT on Friday 1 January 2016 for Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Astronomical twilight has already started. Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Antares (the brightest star in the ancient Greek constellation Scorpius) finder chart. Chart prepared for 3:45 am AEST / 4:45 am AEDT on Friday 1 January 2016 for Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Astronomical twilight has already started. Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

1 January 2016 – Moon and Jupiter finder chart – Morning daytime sky

Moon and Jupiter daytime finder chart. Chart prepared for 9 am AEST / 10 am AEDT on Friday 1 January 2016 for Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Start by looking above the Western horizon to find the Moon. Then grab your binoculars and look below the Moon to find Jupiter. Go down five Moon widths to find Jupiter. Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

Moon and Jupiter daytime finder chart. Chart prepared for 9 am AEST / 10 am AEDT on Friday 1 January 2016 for Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Start by looking above the Western horizon to find the Moon. Then grab your binoculars and look below the Moon to find Jupiter. Go down five Moon widths to find Jupiter. Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

7 January 2016 – Moon, Venus, Saturn and Antares finder chart – Early morning sky

Moon, Venus, Saturn and Antares (the brightest star in the ancient Greek constellation Scorpius) finder chart. Chart prepared for 3:30 am AEST / 4:30 am AEDT on Thursday 7 January 2016 for Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Astronomical twilight has already started. Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

Moon, Venus, Saturn and Antares (the brightest star in the ancient Greek constellation Scorpius) finder chart. Chart prepared for 3:30 am AEST / 4:30 am AEDT on Thursday 7 January 2016 for Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Astronomical twilight has already started. Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

9 January 2016 – Venus, Saturn and Antares finder chart – Early morning sky

Venus, Saturn and Antares (the brightest star in the ancient Greek constellation Scorpius) finder chart. Chart prepared for 3:30 am AEST / 4:30 am AEDT on Saturday 9 January 2016 for Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Astronomical twilight has already started. Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

Venus, Saturn and Antares (the brightest star in the ancient Greek constellation Scorpius) finder chart. Chart prepared for 3:30 am AEST / 4:30 am AEDT on Saturday 9 January 2016 for Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Astronomical twilight has already started. Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

15 January 2016 – Uranus and Neptune finder chart – Early evening sky

Uranus and Neptune finder chart. Chart prepared for 8:45 pm AEST / 9:45 pm AEDT on Thursday 15 January 2015 for the Gold Coast, Queensland (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

Uranus and Neptune finder chart. Chart prepared for 8:45 pm AEST / 9:45 pm AEDT on Thursday 15 January 2016 for the Gold Coast, Queensland (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

Note that Uranus and Neptune are not visible to the unaided eye. With practice and a decent finder chart, you can use a large pair of binoculars to locate Uranus and Neptune.

15 January 2016 – Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn finder chart – Early morning sky 

Uranus and Neptune finder chart. Chart prepared for 8:45 pm AEST / 9:45 pm AEDT on Thursday 15 January 2015 for the Gold Coast, Queensland (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn finder chart. Chart prepared for 3:15 am AEST / 4:15 am AEDT on 15 January 2016 for the Gold Coast, Queensland (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

16 January 2016 – Moon and Uranus finder chart – Early evening sky

Moon and Uranus finder chart. Prepared for 9 pm AEST / 10 pm AEDT on Saturday 16 January 2016 for Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

Moon and Uranus finder chart. Prepared for 9 pm AEST / 10 pm AEDT on Saturday 16 January 2016 for Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission.

You will need binoculars to locate Uranus – particularly with the glare from the nearby bright Moon. Avoid looking at the Moon through your binoculars before you attempt to star hop to Uranus. I would instead start by locating the faint (4th magnitude) star Epsilon Piscium (marked on the chart) and move upwards from there to Uranus. The star chart also shows stars to magnitude 8. This is fainter than I usually select but is necessary to assist you in the star hopping process.

27 January 2016 – Moon and Jupiter finder chart – Evening sky

Moon and Jupiter finder chart. Chart prepared for 10 pm AEST / 11 pm AEDT on Wednesday 27 January 2016 for Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission. The insert shows the four largest of Jupiter's Galilean Moons as they appear at the same same as seen through a telescope or large pair of binoculars.

Moon and Jupiter finder chart. Chart prepared for 10 pm AEST / 11 pm AEDT on Wednesday 27 January 2016 for Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (but will be also useful for elsewhere in Eastern Australia). Chart prepared using the highly recommended Sky Safari Pro tablet app. Used with permission. The insert shows the four largest of Jupiter’s Galilean Moons as they appear at the same same as seen through a telescope or large pair of binoculars.

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