What the Planets are doing this month


JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec


January 2019

   Mercury. The inner planet rises in the early morning twilight one hour before the Sun on the first day of January but sets closer to the Sun as the month progresses heading toward superior conjunction with the Sun on the 30th.

Venus. The "Morning Star" sees the first of the new year in Libra, crossing into Scorpius on the 10th and into Ophiuchus on the 15th of the Month. For a couple of days either side of the 23rd Venus and Jupiter will be less then three degrees apart. A thin waning crescent Moon sits two degrees to the north of Venus on the 2nd.

   Mars. The red planet sets four hours later than the Sun at the beginning of the new year. The start of January finds it in Pisces, five degrees to the east of the faint circlet of stars marking the head of one of the fish. At magnitude 0.5 and with its ruddy glow it stands out among the faint stars of Pisces. The crescent waxing Moon joins Mars on the 12th and 13th of the month.

  Jupiter. In the morning sky and rising two hours before the Sun at the beginning of the month, the giant planet spends the entire month in Ophiuchus – The Serpent Bearer. By the end of the month Jupiter will rise four hours before the Sun encountering the waning crescent Moon on the last day of the month when the two will be just over three degrees apart.
  Saturn. Wait to the end of the month before trying to observe Saturn when it will be rising two hours before the Sun.

Moon Phase for January 2019:

   6th   14th  21st  28th

back to top



February 2019 

   Mercury. The inner planet returns to the evening twilight sky this month reaching its greatest elongation east of the Sun on the 27th. However because of the sharp angle of the ecliptic to the western horizon Mercury will set only forty minutes later than the Sun and hard to spot in the western evening twilight. Better to wait until next month when Mercury returns to the early morning sky and in a more favourable position for observation.

Venus. The waning crescent Moon and Venus begin February in Sagittarius within two degrees of each other on the first day of the month. Venus remains in the realm of the Archer for the whole month of February having a close encounter with Saturn on the 18th and 19th when the pair will be just over one degree apart. Rising three hours before the Sun mid-month, the "Morning Star" stands out among the vast star fields and nebulosity of this area of the heavens. If you are feeling adventurous, The magnitude 14.3 dwarf planet Pluto is ninety arcminutes to the south on the 23rd of the month.

   Mars. The red planet begins the month in Pisces passing into Aries on the 13th and encountering Uranus as it does so when the two planets are within one degree of each other. Check out the contrasting colours of these two bodies. Mars sets three hours later than the Sun for most of the month and the waxing crescent Moon will be in close proximity to Mars on the 10th and 11th of February.

  Jupiter. The giant planet rises over five hours before the Sun as February begins but by the end of the month it will be rising just before midnight, a good six hours before the Sun. It spends the entire month in Ophiuchus where it encounters the waning crescent Moon on the first and last day of the month.
  Saturn. Low in the eastern morning twilight, the ringed planet rises two hours before the Sun at the beginning of February but by the end of the month will breast the eastern horizon a full four hours before the Sun. The 18th and 19th of the month sees Saturn very close to Venus and the contrasting colours of the pair should be apparent with Venus a brilliant white and Saturn with its subtle yellow hue. The waning crescent Moon joins Saturn on the second day of the month.

Moon Phase for February 2019:

5th   13th   20th  26th   

back to top


March 2019

   Mercury. The elusive inner planet is low in the western twilight at the beginning of March and very difficult to observe as it sets only forty minutes later than the Sun. It will be at inferior conjunction with the Sun on the 15th of the month on its way to the early morning twilight. By month’s end it will be rising ninety minutes before the Sun and just over one degree from the outer planet Neptune.
 
Venus. The "morning star" begins March in the early morning sky in Sagittarius, rising three hours before the Sun. It will move into Capricornus on the 3rd and on this day be situated one degree to the north of the Moon. It will cross into Aquarius on the 25th heading for a rendezvous with Neptune early next month.

   Mars. High in the western evening sky at sundown Mars begins the month in Aries, setting three hours later than the Sun. It travels into Taurus on the 24th and for the next few nights slowly glides past the famous Pleiades star cluster. The waxing crescent Moon joins the red planet on March the 11th.

  Jupiter. The giant planet rises just before midnight as March begins but by the end of the month will cross the eastern horizon around 10:00pm. It spends the entire month in Ophiuchus where in encounters a waning gibbous Moon on the 27th.
  Saturn. Still lazing about in Sagittarius, Saturn can be readily identified by its subtle yellow glow. Because of its slow orbit around the Sun it only managed a two degree eastern motion against the background stars for the entire month of March. On the 2nd of the month a thin waning crescent Moon lies one degree to the east of the ringed planet.

Moon Phase for March 2019:

   7th  14th   21st 28th 

back to top



April 2019

   Mercury. Venus. Early morning risers will be rewarded this month with great opportunities to observe Mercury as it shares the early morning twilight with the much brighter Venus. On the 3rd the outer planet Neptune will be separated from Mercury by less than half a degree with the pair visible in the same telescopic field. On this morning the thin crescent of a waning Moon resides three degrees to the south of this pair. Mercury reaches its greatest elongation west of the Sun on the 12th. On he 15th the inner planet crosses from Aquarius into Pisces closely followed by Venus two mornings later when the two planets will be only four degrees apart. The constellation Cetus plays host to Mercury from the 23rd to the 26th of the month and to Venus from the 27th to the 29th of the month. The pair finish the month back in Pisces.

   Mars. Low in the western evening twilight at the beginning of April, Mars hovers close to the Pleiades star cluster for the first few days of the month where on the 9th it is joined by the four day old waxing crescent Moon. It continues its eastward journey against the background stars of Taurus encountering the fourth magnitude pair of Kappa Tauri stars on the 13th and the sixth magnitude open star cluster NGC 1746 on April 27th.

  Jupiter.  The king of the planets rises just before 10:00pm at the beginning of April and, rising four minutes earlier each evening, by the end of the month rises at 8:00pm. Situated among the magnificent starfields of Ophiuchus and Sagittarius it outshines all  comers in this part of the sky except the Moon which joins it on the 24th. Two of the better known Messier objects, M20 and M8 are just seven degrees to the east of Jupiter.

  Saturn. The ringed planet enters the eastern sky just before midnight as April begins, seven degrees to the east of the teapot asterism of Sagittarius. By the end of the month it will rise around 10:00pm and be the brightest object in Sagittarius and distinguished by its subtle yellow tinge. It will be occulted by the waning crescent Moon on the 25th but from the location Sydney the disappearance will not be visible, however the reappearance will be visible at 11:26pm low in the eastern sky.

Moon Phase for April 2019:

  5th   13th   19th  27th

back to top


May 2019

   Mercury. In superior conjunction with the Sun on the 21st, Mercury is only visible in the morning sky until around the 9th of the month when it will be starting to get lost in the glare of the Sun. On the 9th it will be in conjunction with Uranus and the pair will be situated only eighty arcminutes apart. On the last day of the month Mercury will be in the western evening twilight and setting forty five minutes later than the Sun. A waning crescent Moon will be four degrees to the west of Mercury on the 3rd of May.

Venus. Still fulfilling its roll as the "Morning Star", the brilliant Venus outshines all comers except the waning crescent Moon which it encounters on the 2nd and 3rd of the month. It begins the month in the early morning sky in Pisces, moving into Aries on May 18th where the next morning is in conjunction with Uranus with one degree separating the pair.

   Mars. The red planet will be low in the western evening sky this month where it is joined by a three day old waxing crescent Moon on the 8th of the month while it is locked between the horns of Taurus the bull. On the 17th it crosses into Gemini where it passes close to the open cluster NGC 2158 on the 18th and another open cluster M35 on the 19th. The last day of May finds Mars one degree from third magnitude Mebsuta, epsilon Geminorum.

  Jupiter. The spotty one rises at 8:00pm at the start of May in the constellation of Ophiuchus where it will spend the entire month. By the end of the month however it will rise around 6:00pm and in a great position for observation for most of the night. A waning gibbous moon joins Jupiter on the evening of the 20th of the month.

  Saturn. Still in Sagittarius and identifiable by it subtle yellow tinge, Saturn is always worth observing with its magnificent ring system. It will rise at 10:00pm at the beginning of the month and by the end of May will rise above the eastern horizon around 8:00pm. There will be a daytime occultation of Saturn by the Moon at 8:00am on Thursday May 23rd.

Moon Phase for May 2019:

5th  12th   19th   27th 

back to top


June 2019


   Mercury:    The inner planet begins June in Taurus low in the western evening twilight setting forty minutes later than the Sun. It moves into Gemini on the 5th where on the 18th and 19th it has a close encounter with Mars, the pair being separated by less than half a degree and it is worth noting the colour similarity of the two planets. On the 24th Mercury reaches its greatest eastern elongation from the Sun when it will be setting ninety minutes later than the Sun. The next day on the 25th it crosses into Cancer where it will spend the rest of the month.

Venus:    The "Morning Star" is on a swift journey back to superior conjunction with the Sun in August. At the start of June it will rise ninety minutes before the Sun but by the end of the month will rise only fifty minutes before the Sun. On the 2nd a waning crescent Moon sits three degrees to the south east of Venus.

  Mars:    The planet Mars is also in the western evening twilight in Gemini and setting two hours later than the Sun as June begins. It will have a close encounter with Mercury on the 18th and 19th of the month with Mercury being the slightly brighter of the two. I moves into Cancer on the 29th, spending the last two days of the month there. The two day old waxing Moon sits five degrees to the west of Mars on the 5th of the month.
  Jupiter:    This giant world will be high in the eastern sky after the sun has set early in June and crosses the meridian at midnight on the 11th. It spends the month retrograding in Ophiuchus with a few Messier objects for company. M9, a magnitude 7.9 globular cluster lies four degrees to the north and M19, another globular cluster is four and a half degrees to the south. The full Moon sits four degrees to the north west of Jupiter.

  Saturn:    The ringed planet enters the evening sky two hours later than Jupiter and at the start of the month will be rising just before 8:00pm and in a great position to be observed all night long. By the end of the month it will cross the eastern horizon just prior to 6:00pm. The waning gibbous Moon will be just to the west of Saturn on the 19th and to the east of the planet on the 20th.

Moon Phase for June 2019:

3rd   10th   17th   25th 

back to top


July 2019

    Mercury:    Only visible in the western evening twilight for the first few days of July as Mercury moves swiftly back toward conjunction with the Sun on the 21st. On the 4th the thin crescent Moon will be in close proximity to both Mercury and Mars with Mars and Mercury in conjunction on the 9th.

Venus:  Very low in the early morning twilight, Venus will probably only be visible for the first few days of the month after which it will be lost in the glare of the Sun.

 Mars:   The red planet begins the month low in the western evening sky in Cancer. It will be setting ninety minutes later than the Sun on the 1st but by the end of the month, having moved into Leo, will be lost in the evening twilight and setting only thirty minutes later than the Sun. On the 13th and 14th Mars will be less than half a degree to the south of M44, the Beehive open star cluster. The thin crescent of a waxing new Moon pays Mars a visit on the 4th of the month.

Jupiter:  High in the eastern sky after the Sun has set, Jupiter is in a great position for observation all month long. In the constellation of Ophiuchus-The Serpent Bearer, the giant planet will be attended by the waxing gibbous Moon on the 13th and 14th of the month. Pay particular attention to the Great Red Spot which has diminished to around a third of its normal size but intensified in colour.

  Saturn:  The ringed planet rises at 7:40pm at the beginning of July so by nightfall is in an ideal position for observation in the eastern sky. In Sagittarius, Saturn stands out with its subtle golden tinge and superior brightness to the stars of the teapot asterism of Sagittarius. The almost full Moon lies three degrees to the east of Saturn on the 16th of July.

Moon Phase for July 2019:

 3rd   9th   17th 25th 

back to top


August 2019

   Mercury. The inner planet returns to the morning sky this month and rises one hour before the Sun on the 1st of the month. It will reach its greatest elongation west of the Sun on the 10th but because of the sharp angle of the ecliptic to the eastern horizon it will still rise only 70 minutes before the Sun.

Venus. The brightest planet reaches superior conjunction with the Sun on the 14th of the month and remains too close to the Sun for observation until the latter part of September.

   Mars. The red planet starts the month very low in the western twilight and remains too close to the Sun for observation this month. It attains superior conjunction with the Sun on the 2nd of next month.
  Jupiter. Rising just after 1:00pm at the beginning of August and by sundown Jupiter will be high in the eastern sky and in an ideal position for observation most of the night. Shining at magnitude -2.3 it really stands out with its brilliant white glow. On the 12th it ceases its backward motion against the stars and returns to its eastward journey against the background stars of Ophiuchus-The Serpent Bearer. The waxing gibbous Moon will be nine degrees to the west of Jupiter on the 9th and five degrees to the east of the gas giant on the 10th of the month.
  Saturn. Rising two hours later than Jupiter, Saturn can be identified by its subtle yellow tinge as it sits a couple of degrees to the east of the teapot asterism of Sagittarius. High in the eastern sky after sunset, Saturn will be visible all night long this month. For the first 22 days of the month Saturn will be within one degree of magnitude 3.8 Omicron Sagittarii, making its closest approach on the 6th when the pair will be just over half a degree apart. There will be an occultation by the Moon of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, visible from most of Australia, at 6:25pm on the 12th followed by an occultation of Saturn ten minutes later. These occultation times may vary slightly depending on your location.

Moon Phase for August 2019:

1st   8th   15th  24th  30th

back to top


September 2019

   Mercury. Returning to the western evening sky this month, the inner planet will be best observed in the latter part of the month. At superior conjunction with the Sun on the 4th, Mercury sets later than the Sun each passing day until by the end of the month it will set 90 minutes later than the Sun. On the 29th it will be situated just over one degree to the north of Virgo’s brightest star Spica and the contrast between the ruddy glow of Mercury, the brighter of the two, and Spica's blue white tinge is readily apparent. On the last day of the month the thin crescent of the waxing two day old Moon lies six degrees to the north of the planet.

Venus. By the end of the month Venus, having passed superior conjunction with the Sun last month, begins to take up its duties as the "Evening Star". It will set one hour later than the Sun on the 30th and telescopically show almost its full face to the Earth.

   Mars. The red planet will be in conjunction with the Sun on the 2nd and not available for observation in the early morning sky until November.

  Jupiter. Ophiuchus, the thirteenth constellation of the Zodiac, is still the residence of Jupiter this month and can be found high in the north western sky after the Sun has set. The planet will be joined by the first quarter Moon on the 6th when the pair will be less than three degrees apart. Apart from the Moon, Jupiter at magnitude -2.2 will be the brightest object in that part of the night sky.

  Saturn. High in the northern sky after sunset, at the beginning of the month Saturn crosses the meridian around 8pm. It ceases its retrograde motion against the stars on the 18th and once again sets out on its eastward journey against the starry background. The waxing gibbous Moon will be situated two degrees to the west of Saturn on September the 8th.

Moon Phase for September 2019:

  6th   14th   22nd   29th 

back to top


October 2019

   Mercury. October is a great month to observe the smallest planet which will be visible in the western evening sky after sunset all month long. It reaches greatest eastern elongation from the Sun on the 20th when it will be over 24 degrees from the Sun and setting a full two hours later than the Sun. On the last day of the month the thin crescent of a two day old waxing Moon will sit nine degrees to the east of Mercury.

Venus. The "Evening Star" can also be found in the western evening sky after the Sun has set this month. It sets later than the Sun with each passing day, beginning the month in Virgo and passing into Libra on the 15th of the month. On the 4th Venus will be three degrees to the north of Virgo's brightest star, Spica and on the 21st passes within half a degree of Libra's second brightest star, Zubenelgenubi. The last day of the month finds Venus and Mercury within three degrees of each other with the two day old crescent Moon nine degrees above the pair.

   Mars. The red planet returns to the early morning sky this month and by month’s end will rise 45 minutes before the Sun but lost in the glare of the Sun. Give it a miss until next month.

  Jupiter. Just after the sun has set Jupiter will be very prominent high in the north western sky in Ophiuchus and still in a great position for observation. Although the Great Red Spot has diminished in size an increase in its colour intensity has made it still fairly easy to spot. A waxing crescent Moon joins Jupiter on the 4th of the month and again on the 31st. By the end of the month Jupiter will be setting around 11:00pm.
  Saturn. The magnificent ringed planet is high in the northern sky after sunset early in the month and ideally situated for observation for the entire month. On the 8th the maximum amount of the planet's shadow will be cast onto the rings behind Saturn and well worth a look through the telescope. The first quarter Moon joins Saturn on the 5th and 6th of the month.

Moon Phase for October 2019:

6th  14th   21st  28th 

back to top


November 2019

   Mercury and Venus. The two inner planets begin the month together in Libra low in the western evening sky after the Sun has set. Their pairing is fleeting however as Mercury is in its journey back toward the Sun and Venus is traveling in the other direction, putting more distance between itself and the Sun. Mercury is at inferior conjunction with the Sun on the 12th of November after which it returns to the early morning eastern sky and by the end of the month is rising one hour before the Sun. Venus on the other hand is rising higher in the western evening sky after sunset with each passing day until by the end of the month it will set two hours later than the Sun. It moves into Scorpius on the 2nd, into Ophiuchus on the 8th and into Sagittarius on the 24th where it will end the month half a degree from the magnitude 6.9 globular cluster M28. Venus has a close encounter with Jupiter on the 24th when the two are only ninety arcminutes apart and it passes within half a degree of the magnitude 5.8 Lagoon nebula on the 27th of the month. A thin waxing crescent Moon is in the neighborhood of both Jupiter and Venus on the 28th and 29th of November.

   Mars. The red planet rises almost one hour before the Sun at the beginning of the month and by the end of the month will breast the eastern horizon ninety minutes earlier than the Sun. Mars spends the month in Virgo, passing three degrees to the north of Spica, Virgo's brightest star on the 9th and a waning crescent Moon on the 24th and 25th of the month.
  Jupiter. This giant sets three and a half hours later than the Sun at the start of November but by the end of the month will set only ninety minutes later than the Sun. It has a close encounter with Venus on the 24th when the two are separated by only ninety arcminutes and a thin waxing crescent Moon will be situated just to the west of Jupiter and Venus on 28th of November. Jupiter has been in Ophiuchus since last December but on the 16th of this month joins Saturn in Sagittarius.

    Saturn. High in the north western evening sky after sunset, Saturn is still languishing among the stars of Sagittarius. It is joined in this constellation on the 16th by the giant planet Jupiter and twice this month by the Moon. The first lunar encounter is on the 2nd when the waxing crescent will be less than half a degree from Saturn and again on the 30th when the four day old crescent will be five degrees to the east of the planet.

Moon Phase for November 2019:

4th   12th   20th  27th   

back to top


December 2019

   Mercury. A clear low eastern horizon will be needed to observe Mercury this month. The smallest planet rises around one hour before the Sun for the first half of the month but after that rises too close to the Sun for safe observation.

Venus. The "Evening Star" begins the month in Sagittarius in one of the busiest parts of the Milky Way Galaxy. On its journey across Sagittarius, Venus encounters a few Messier objects, M28 on the 1st, M22 on the 2nd & 3rd and M75 on the 19th, the day before it moves into Capricornus. On the 11th Venus and Saturn will be less than two degrees apart. The thin crescent of a three day old waxing Moon perches two degrees above Venus on the 29th. For those who enjoy a challenge, 14th magnitude dwarf planet Pluto lurks just over a degree to the north of Venus on the 13th of the month. An eight inch or larger telescope will be needed for this task.

   Mars. The red planet, having just returned to the early morning sky, rises 90 minutes before the Sun at the start of December. It passes from Virgo into Libra on the 1st of the month where it will spend the entire month. By Month's end it will be rising over two hours prior to the Sun. Mars sits five degrees to the south of a waning crescent Moon on the 23rd of the month.

  Jupiter. At the beginning of the month Jupiter sets only ninety minutes later than the Sun and will set ever closer to the Sun as the month progresses. It will be in conjunction with the Sun on the 28th of December. Probably best left until toward the end of January when it will rise in the morning sky almost two hours before the Sun.

  Saturn. This month will be the last opportunity to observe Saturn for a couple of months. It sets three hours later than the Sun on the 1st of the month but moves swiftly into the glare of evening twilight as the month progresses. By the end of the month it will set only 45 minutes later than the Sun. Saturn will have a two degree encounter with the brighter Venus on the 10th and 11th of the month.

Moon Phase for December 2019:

01st  12th   19th  26th  

back to top